Youth farm labor laws
Radio interview source: Kerri Ebert, Extension Assistant, Ag Safety and Health, Kansas State University
Listen here to the radio story (mp3) or read below
Kids have been hired to do farm work for ages, but the risk is always there. Kids can fall out of haylofts, be injured by livestock, or get in the way of farm equipment. A federal labor law called Hazardous Occupations Order in Agriculture was enacted 40 years ago to protect kids younger than 16-years-old who are hired to work on the farm.
Kerri Ebert oversees extension agricultural safety and health issues for Kansas State University. She says the regulations don't apply to kids who are working for their parents or guardians. However, anyone else hoping to hire 14- and 15-year- olds should understand the tasks that youth are not allowed to do.
"All 14- and 15-year-olds are prohibited from handling animal sires, or sows and cows with newborns in a confined space, so a pen or corral," Ebert says. "They're prohibited from working more than 20-feet above the ground. They're prohibited from working with category I and category II agriculture chemicals. And, they are prohibited from handling and using explosives, and anhydrous ammonia."
Ebert says 14- and 15-year-olds are permitted to operate certain machinery if they complete a training course. "With the 10-hour training, they can be employed to operate a tractor over 20 PTO horsepower, or to connect or disconnect an implement or any of its parts to and from that tractor," Ebert says. "Now to actually pull the equipment, they need to complete a little more training, and that would be up to the 20-to-24-hours of training."
Ebert says employers also have to be aware of related federal and state regulations when hiring someone under 16-years-old.
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