New Farm Work Rules Would Protect Missouri Teens

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Workers’ Compensation on Friday, March 30, 2012

New proposed federal farm work rules would bar teenagers from doing some work they currently are allowed to perform. Federal authorities describe the proposed changes as needed in order to protect teenagers from dangerous work and job injuries.

Specifically, the modified labor rules would prohibit teen farm workers from taking care of animals, helping to bale hay, or operating power tools. Workers under the age of 18 would also be barred from doing work in feed lots, auctions, silos, or grain elevators. Under the age of 16, any teenagers allowed to work would be prevented from utilizing power equipment, with very few exceptions.

The changes, proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor, would be the first modification of child farm work labor regulations since 1970. The agency is currently also reexamining provisions of the law which permit children to keep working on their parents’ farms. The agency noted that young workers employed as farm labor die on the job at a rate over 400 percent higher than the death rate in other occupations, and that even injuries which such young workers survive tend to be more severe. Entanglement with farm equipment is the most frequent cause of such deaths.

The governor of Missouri and a number of other state officials, including the Missouri Farm Bureau President, have expressed their opposition to the proposed changes, taking the position that they would interfere with a tradition in which doing farm labor was a “rite of passage” for the state’s young people. They claim that the proposal is misguided despite the federal agency’s announced intention to protect teenagers and children from serious workplace injury and death.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Mo. Officials object to proposed farm work rules,” March 24, 2012

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