per week for 16-and 17-year-olds, and these rules also vary, ranging from 20 to 50 hours per week.

States' hazardous orders also differ with regard to coverage and interpretation from the FLSA hazardous orders. Although some states have incorporated the federal standards, other states have adopted their own definitions, as in the case of operating power-driven machinery. Consistent with the principle of equal protection for all children, the committee believes that federal hour limitations and hazardous orders should be considered the minimum safe requirements for working children and adolescents. States should be free to have more stringent regulations, but not less stringent ones.

Recommendation: All state regulations for minors' working hours and hazardous orders should be at least as protective as federal child labor rules.

Under current law, young workers in agriculture are not entitled to the same health and safety protection as in those other industries. Only a few Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards apply to agriculture. Standards that regulate such things as electrical hazards, unguarded machinery, confined spaces, heat stress, carcinogens, and access to medical and exposure records in other industries do not apply in agriculture. The hazard communication standards under OSHA with respect to pesticides have been preempted by less comprehensive Worker Protection Standards under the purview of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Furthermore, although the enforcement of OSHA standards is generally more limited for businesses that employ 10 or fewer workers, these businesses must nonetheless comply with the standards, while farms that employ 10 or fewer workers and do not have labor camps are exempted altogether from such enforcement. No health and safety justification for the distinction between agricultural and nonagricultural settings appears to exist. It should be a priority to protect the large number of youngsters working in agriculture from the recognized significant risks of such work to the same extent that young workers are protected in other industries.

The committee acknowledges that extending OSHA coverage to agriculture would be a major change in policy with many ramifications, particularly since OSHA regulations have, to date, not distinguished between adult and youth workers. However, the fact that

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement