What is in this article?:
- For the first time since the 1970’s, the U.S. Department of Labor is proposing amendments and additions to the Fair Labor Standards Act in an attempt to increase safety requirements for young workers employed in agriculture.
Proposed Non-Ag HOs
Proposed Non-Ag HOs
• Occupations in Farm-Product Raw Materials Wholesale Trade Industries
The proposed non-ag HO prohibits employment of youth under 18 years of age in all work performed in conjunction with storing, marketing, and transporting farm-product raw materials. The proposal includes occupations performed at grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, feed yards, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions, but would not include places of employment where employees clean, sort, weigh, package and ship fruits and vegetables, or sales work involving farm-product raw materials solely done in an office.
• Use of Electronic Devices
The proposed non-ag HO prohibits use of electronic devices, including communications devices, while operating or assisting to operate power-driven equipment. The prohibition includes talking, listening, or participating in an electronic conversation, using or accessing the Internet, sending or receiving text messages, email, chats, instant messages, as well as playing electronic games or entering data into a navigational device of a GPS. The proposal does not include listening to music or other recorded information on one-way, noninteractive device, such as an IPod, as long as device is being operated hands-free without earbuds.
Proposed Changes to Ag HOs
• Student Learners
The proposal eliminates some of the current student-learner exemptions contained in 29 C.F.R. §570.72(b)(c), and retains 29 C.F.R. §570.72(a). Thus, the DOL is proposing to remove the exemptions for 14-15 year-old hired farm workers who have received certification from approved Extension Service farm safety programs, and some vocational ag certification training. The DOL is proposing to retain the student learner exemption located in §570.72(a) for 14 and 15-year old students participating in ongoing vocational ag ed training program (90 hours systematic school instruction completed at or above eighth grade level).
Note: The DOL’s intent is to strengthen existing safety training requirements for hired farm workers under age 16. The proposal is in response to federal government studies that led to the conclusion that participants in Extension Service and vo-ag safety courses continued to engage in dangerous activities, such as handling chemicals on the farm.
• Operation of Ag Tractors
The proposal revises the original ag hazardous occupations regulations located at 29 C.F.R. §570.71(a)(1) and (7) and creates a new Ag Ho at 29 C.F.R. §570.99(b)(1) entitled “Occupations involving operation of ag tractors.” The proposal prohibits the operation and the assisting in the operation of ag tractors, with certain limitations for student-learners; includes tending, setting up, adjusting, moving, cleaning, oiling, repairing, riding as a passenger or helper, connecting of disconnecting implements of an ag tractor. Under the proposal, an ag tractor is defined as wheeled or track vehicle designed to furnish power to pull, carry, propel, or drive implements designed for ag.
Note: The DOL is requesting comments on the limitation of weight and horsepower of tractors. The DOL proposes a partial exemption for student learners to operate certain ag tractors under certain conditions. To qualify, tractors operated by student learners must have roll-over protection, seat belts must be used, equipment must meet OSHA standards, and the student learner must have completed a classroom portion of educational unit on tractor safety. If the tractor is to be operated on a highway, the student operator must have a valid license issued by the state where the vehicle is licensed, and the operator must not allow passengers or helpers to ride along unless the passengers are trained educators.
• Operation of Non-Ag Tractors and Power-Driven Equipment
The proposal revises the original Ag HOs located at 29 C.F.R. §§570.71(a)(2), (a)(3), (a)(7) and creates a new Ag HO at 29 C.F.R. §570.99(b)(2) that addresses the dangers of children under the age of 16 operating power-driven equipment, other than ag tractors. The proposal creates an Ag HO entitled “occupations involving operation of power-driven equipment, other than ag tractors,” and prohibits hired farm workers from operating and assisting in operation of power-driven equipment. The proposal also contains a limited exemption for student learners, and includes all machines, equipment, implements, vehicles, and/or devices operated by any power source other than human hand or foot power, such as lawn and garden tractors, and all power-driven lawn mowers and power-driven milking equipment.