The proposal would prohibit farm workers under 16 from operating almost all power-driven equipment. A similar prohibition has existed as part of the nonagricultural child labor provisions for more than 50 years. A limited exemption would permit some student learners to operate certain farm implements and tractors, when equipped with proper rollover protection structures and seat belts, under specified conditions.
The FLSA establishes a minimum age of 18 for hazardous work in nonagricultural employment and 16 in agricultural employment. Once agricultural workers reach age 16, they are no longer subject to the FLSA's child labor provisions. The FLSA also provides a complete exemption for youths employed on farms owned by their parents.
Even with that exemption, Anderson said, the DOL is barking up the wrong tree.
"With the homicide rate among teens at 20.7 per 100,000 (according to childtrendsdatabank.org), and the farm injury rate for all ages at about two per 100,000, I think this effort is misguided," he said.
The public is invited to provide comments on the proposal, which must be received by Nov. 1. A public hearing on the proposal will be scheduled following the comment period. For more information, go to the proposed rule website.