The state of Washington uses the work permit process to assist its enforcement of the hour and industry restrictions and to protect children and adolescents from conditions that could be detrimental to their health, safety, or welfare. In Washington, not only must minors obtain parent/school authorization forms, but the employers who hire them are also required to obtain work permits from the Department of Labor and Industries. These employer permits, which may include restrictions on minor employees' working conditions, must be posted and can be revoked at any time if the employers violate any conditions of the permit (WAC 296-125-020). Oregon has recently changed its permit process so that teens no longer are required to get work permits, but employers of young people must reapply annually to be certified as youth employers (National School-to-Work Office, no date).
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (29 U.S.C. Chapter 15 §651 et seq.), passed in 1970, requires that employers provide work and places of employment that comply with specific safety and health standards and are free from other recognized hazards that may cause serious physical harm. Although children and adolescents are entitled to the same protections as adults, they receive no additional protection, with one exception: The regulations concerning exposure to ionizing radiation for individuals under 18 years of age are 10 percent of the permissible level of exposure for adults (29 C.F.R. 1910.1096 (b)(3)). The act specifies that state regulations (adopted by state occupational safety and health programs) must be at least as protective as federal rules; occasionally, they are more protective. The act is administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
There are two major problems with the current rules as they apply to protecting working children and adolescents. First, the OSHA's standards have not been written or reviewed with regard to special risks for children. A National Research Council (1993) re-