Employing minors on your farm

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It’s that time of year when students are preparing for the school year to end and many are looking for a job. You may have one or more students knock on your door asking if they may work for you after school and then during those days when school is not in session. Are there any concerns you, as the employer, should have? Yes!

Who is covered?

The employment of minors under 16 is subject to federal requirements set by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the agriculture requirements are less stringent than those for other industries. In 1967, the U.S. Secretary of Labor determined that certain jobs in agriculture are hazardous to children less than 16.

However, there are some exemptions. These exemptions include the employment of children less than 16 when employed on farms operated by their parents or guardians and those who have completed an approved tractor and machinery certification course.

In addition to federal hazardous occupation regulations, there can be state regulations which may be more restrictive.

For most Ohio laws, a person under 18 is considered a minor and the Ohio Revised Code prohibits minors from working in certain jobs related to agriculture. The Ohio list of hazardous occupations is the same as the federal list, but the Ohio code sections and related regulations say the Ohio hazardous occupation list applies to those under 16.

Hazardous Occupations in Agriculture:

Anyone involved in agriculture knows it can be dangerous. The Fair Labor Standards Act has declared certain agricultural tasks to be hazardous to youth working for hire under age 16. These tasks are listed in the Hazardous Occupations Order in Agriculture (AgHO). After a youth turns 16, then the AgHO laws no longer apply.

These tasks include the following:

• Operating a tractor of more than 20 PTO horsepower, or connecting or disconnecting implements from such a tractor.
• Operating a corn picker, combine, hay mower, forage harvester, hay baler or potato digger.
• Operating a feed grinder, grain dryer, forage blower, auger conveyor or the unloading mechanism of a non-gravity type self-unloading wagon or trailer. Operating a trencher, earth moving equipment, fork lift, or power-driven circular, band or chain saw.
• Working in a yard, or pen occupied by a bull, boar or stud horse; or sow with suckling pigs or cow with newborn calf.
• Felling, bucking, skidding, loading or unloading timber with butt diameter of greater than six inches.
• Working on a ladder at a height of more than 20 feet.
• Driving a bus, truck or automobile or riding on a tractor as a passenger.
• Working in a forage, fruit or grain storage facility; an upright silo within two weeks after silage has been added or when a top unloading device is operating; a manure pit; or a horizontal silo when operating a tractor for packing purposes.
• Handling or applying pesticides with the words or symbols “Danger”, “Poison”, “Skull and Crossbones” or “Warning” on the label.
• Handling or using blasting agents.
• Transporting, transferring or applying anhydrous Handling or applying pesticides with the words or symbols “Danger”, “Poison”, “Skull and Crossbones” or “Warning” on the label.
• Handling or using blasting agents.
• Transporting, transferring or applying anhydrous ammonia.

If a young person stops at your farm asking for a job, you have an opportunity to train someone and provide them with important life skills.

Just keep in mind the hours they may or not be permitted to work depending upon the school year. Also, make sure you are keeping a file, just like you would of any other employee.

If you have questions, contact an attorney or see Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet ANR-26-10, Know the Rules When Employing Minors on Your Farm, available online or through your local OSU Extension office.

About the Author

(Chris Zoller is an agricultural extension educator in Tuscarawas County and a member of the OSU Extension DairyExcel team.) More Stories by Chris Zoller

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