Hazardous Occupation Orders

The FLSA allows the Secretary of Labor to designate, by means of documents called hazardous occupation orders (usually referred to as hazardous orders), specific agricultural and nonagricultural employment as hazardous or particularly detrimental to minors' health or well-being. Anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited from working in nonagricultural industries and occupations named in a hazardous order; in agriculture, hazardous orders apply to youth under the age of 16.

There are currently 17 federal hazardous orders for nonagricultural occupations and 11 for agriculture (29 C.F.R. 570 (E)). These orders are predominantly related to physical hazards, such as using power tools, operating power-driven machinery, engaging in mining, working with explosives, and driving vehicles with passengers; see Boxes 6-3 and 6-4.

The hazardous orders were issued decades ago and have rarely been updated to reflect contemporary work. Some of the restrictions have become irrelevant. At the same time, youngsters in today's workplaces encounter hazards that did not exist, were not recognized, or were not performed by minors when the standards were written. For example, the orders do not address a range of well-recognized occupational health hazards, such as exposures to regulated carcinogens and reproductive toxins, or musculoskeletal risks that may pose different, and possibly higher, risks to young workers (see Chapter 3 for a discussion of the susceptibility of children and adolescents). Few states regulate young people's exposure to bio-hazards, carcinogens, reproductive toxins, toxic sensitizers, and substances that cause irreversible damage to certain organs. (See Washington state law for an example of a state that does regulate these exposures; WAC 296-125-030.)

The process for updating the federal hazardous orders has been controlled, since 1993, by the Administrative Procedures Act (5 U.S.C. §553). This act requires that a notice of proposed rule-making be published in the Federal Register; that interested persons be given the opportunity to submit written data, views, or arguments; and that, after consideration of relevant matters, the final rule be published at least 30 days before its effective date. In 1994 the Department of Labor issued an advance notice of proposed rule-making on child labor regulations, orders, and statements of inter-



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