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Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor

Prohibited Occupations for Non-Agricultural Employees

The child labor rules that apply to non-agricultural employment depend on the age of the young worker and the kind of job to be performed. 14 years old is the minimum age for non-agricultural employment covered by the FLSA. In addition to restrictions on hours, the Secretary of Labor has found that certain jobs are too hazardous for anyone under 18 years of age to perform. There are additional restrictions on where and in what jobs 14-and 15-year-olds can work. These rules must be followed unless one of the FLSA's child labor exemptions apply.

  • A youth 18 years or older may perform any job, whether hazardous or not.
  • A youth 16 or 17 years old may perform any non-hazardous job. (See the list of hazardous occupations below.)
  • A youth 14 and 15 years old may not work in the manufacturing or mining industries, or in any hazardous job. (See the list of hazardous occupations below.) In addition, a 14- or 15-year-old may not work in the following occupations:

The child labor rules also determine what types of jobs a youth may or may not perform .

A 14- or 15-year-old may not work in:

  • Hazardous jobs identified by the Secretary of Labor;
  • Manufacturing, processing, and mining occupations;
  • Communications or public utilities jobs;
  • Construction or repair jobs;
  • Operating or assisting in operating power-driven machinery or hoisting apparatus other than typical office machines.
  • Work as a ride attendant or ride operator at an amusement park or a “dispatcher” at the top of elevated water slides;
  • Driving motor vehicles or helping a driver;
  • Youth peddling, sign waving, or door-to-door sales;
  • Poultry catching or cooping;
  • Lifeguarding at a natural environment such as a lake, river, ocean beach, quarry, pond (youth must be at least 15 years of age and properly certified to be a lifeguard at a traditional swimming pool or water amusement park);
  • Public messenger jobs;
  • Transporting persons or property;
  • Workrooms where products are manufactured, mined or processed;
  • Warehousing and storage.
  • Boiler or engine room work, whether in or about;
  • Cooking, except with gas or electric grills that do not involve cooking over an open flame and with deep fat fryers that are equipped with and utilize devices that automatically lower and raise the baskets in and out of the hot grease or oil;
  • Baking;
  • Operating, setting up, adjusting, cleaning, oiling, or repairing power-driven food slicers, grinders, choppers or cutters and bakery mixers;
  • Freezers or meat coolers work, except minors may occasionally enter a freezer for a short period of time to retrieve items;
  • Loading or unloading goods on or off trucks, railcars or conveyors except in very limited circumstances.
  • Meat processing and work in areas where meat is processed;
  • Maintenance or repair of a building or its equipment;
  • Outside window washing that involves working from window sills;
  • All work involving the use of ladders, scaffolds, or similar equipment;
  • Warehouse work, except office and clerical work.

The jobs 14- and 15-year-old workers may legally perform are limited to:

  • Office and clerical work;
  • Work of an intellectual or artistically creative nature;
  • Bagging and carrying out customer's orders;
  • Cashiering, selling, modeling, art work, advertising, window trimming, or comparative shopping;
  • Pricing and tagging goods, assembling orders, packing, or shelving;
  • Clean-up work and grounds maintenance—the young worker may use vacuums and floor waxers, but he or she may not use power-driven mowers, cutters, and trimmers;
  • Work as a lifeguard at a traditional swimming pool or water amusement park if at least 15 years of age and properly certified;
  • Kitchen and other work in preparing and serving food and drinks, but only limited cooking duties and no baking (see below);
  • Cleaning fruits and vegetables;
  • Cooking with gas or electric grills that do not involve cooking over an open flame and with deep fat fryers that are equipped with and utilize devices that automatically lower and raise the baskets in and out of the hot grease or oil;
  • Clean cooking equipment, including the filtering, transporting and dispensing of oil and grease, but only when the surfaces of the equipment and liquids do not exceed 100° F;
  • Pumping gas, cleaning and hand washing and polishing of cars and trucks (but the young worker may not repair cars, use garage lifting rack, or work in pits);
  • Wrapping, weighing, pricing, stocking any goods as long as he or she doesn't work where meat is being prepared and doesn't work in freezers or meat coolers;
  • Delivery work by foot, bicycle, or public transportation;
  • Riding in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle except when a significant reason for the minor being a passenger in the vehicle is for the purpose of performing work in connection with the transporting—or assisting in the transporting of—other persons or property;
  • Loading and unloading onto and from motor vehicles, the hand tools and personal equipment the youth will use on the job site.

Hazardous Occupations

Eighteen is the minimum age for employment in non-agricultural occupations declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. The rules prohibiting working in hazardous occupations (HO) apply either on an industry basis, or on an occupational basis no matter what industry the job is in. Parents employing their own children are subject to these same rules. General exemptions apply to all of these occupations, while limited apprentice/student-learner exemptions apply to those occupations marked with an *.

These rules prohibit work in, or with the following:

HO 1. 
Manufacturing and storing of explosives.

HO 2. 
Driving a motor vehicle and being an outside helper on a motor vehicle.

HO 3. 
Coal mining.

HO 4. 
Forest fire fighting and fire prevention, timber tract management, forestry services, logging, and saw mill occupations.

HO 5.*
Power-driven woodworking machines.

HO 6. 
Exposure to radioactive substances.

HO 7. 
Power-driven hoisting apparatus.

HO 8.*
Power-driven metal-forming, punching, and shearing machines.

HO 9. 
Mining, other than coal mining.

HO 10. 
Meat and poultry packing or processing (including the use of power-driven meat slicing machines).

HO 11. 
Power-driven bakery machines.

HO 12.*
Balers, compactors, and paper-products machines.

HO 13. 
Manufacturing brick, tile, and related products.

HO 14.*
Power-driven circular saws, band saws, guillotine shears, chain saws, reciprocating saws, wood chippers, and abrasive cutting discs.

HO 15. 
Wrecking, demolition, and shipbreaking operations.

HO 16.*
Roofing operations and all work on or about a roof.

HO 17.*
Excavation operations.

You can obtain more detail about any, or all of the above listings, by reviewing the child labor regulations.

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