In OSHA Region 5’s August newsletter, John Newquist, the Assistant Regional Administrator, included a reminder about forklifts and workers under 18. Simply put: keep them away. While we heartily endorse giving teenagers worthwhile jobs, there are some jobs that are simply too dangerous for them (remember: with age comes wisdom). The Fair Labor Standards Act specifically prohibits those under 18 from:
- Operating forklifts, scissors lifts, skid steers, cherry pickers, boom trucks, backhoes, cranes – equipment with a “power driven hoisting apparatus”
- Driving motor vehicles for work (17 year olds are allowed under some circumstances)
- Doing logging work, including chain saw use
- Operating powered woodworking machines (sanders, nailers…)
- Using power-driven metal-forming, punching, or shearing machines (no punch presses)
- Using most power-driven meat processing or bakery machines.
- Operating or loading balers or compactors
- Operating or helping with powered circular saws, band saws, guillotine shears, wood chippers, and abrasive cutting discs.
- Roofing work
- Trenching/excavation work
See the US Department of Labor Fact Sheet #43 for more details. The DoL list isn’t complete enough to include all hazardous occupations. Go ahead and employ your children – but keep them away from the dangerous equipment and exposures until they’re old enough to understand the risks.