Young Worker Safety in Restaurants
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Child Labor Laws State Laws
Other Resources Fair Labor Standards Act
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This section may be of interest to the young worker but is provided mainly for the employer. Other sections of this eTool reference this area for more information. The following topics will be covered:

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Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Potential Hazard

Without child labor laws, like the FLSA, youth workers may not be protected from working long hours or from exposure to the hazards of working at dangerous jobs. Child labor laws include both state and federal laws.  

Child Labor Laws
Possible Solutions

Employer Solutions
Employers have the primary responsibility for protecting the safety and health of their workers. Employees are responsible for following the safe work practices of their employers.

Follow the Fair Labor Standards Act including:

Federal child labor rules are established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA child labor provisions are designed to protect the educational opportunities of youth and prohibit their employment in jobs and under conditions detrimental to their health or safety. Once a young worker reaches age 18, federal child labor rules no longer apply.

What hours can youth work and at what kinds of jobs?

Bookmark reminder: what hours youth can work - PDF
Bookmark reminder [396 KB PDF, 2 pages]: what hours youth can work
  • Youth 18 years or older may perform any job, whether hazardous or not.

  • Youth 16- or 17-years-old may perform any non-hazardous job for unlimited hours. Hazardous jobs are included below.

  • Work hours and jobs are limited for 14 and 15-year-olds.

  • The Wage and Hour Division is making available a downloadable bookmark in both English and Spanish versions to remind youth of the hours and jobs they may work.

  • Employer's Pocket Guide for Youth Employment [95 KB PDF, 12 pages]. The Department of Labor(DOL) Employer's Brochure provides more information on hours permitted and jobs permitted for employers of youth workers.

Hazardous Jobs (non-agricultural occupations):

The Secretary of Labor has determined that certain jobs are too hazardous for young workers under the age of 18 to perform. Young workers younger than 18 may not work in or with the following Hazardous Occupations (HO). They are listed by Hazardous Occupation Number:

HO- 1 Manufacturing and storing of explosives - 29 CFR 570.51
HO- 2 Driving a motor vehicle and being an outside helper on a motor vehicle - 29 CFR 570.52
HO- 3 Coal Mining - 29 CFR 570.53
HO- 4 Logging and sawmilling - 29 CFR 570.54
HO- 5 Power-driven woodworking machines* - 29 CFR 570.55
HO- 6 Exposure to radioactive substances - 29 CFR 570.57
HO- 7 Power-driven hoisting apparatus - 29 CFR 570.58
HO- 8 Power-driven metal-forming, punching, and shearing machines* - 29 CFR 570.59
HO- 9 Mining, other than coal mining - 29 CFR 570.60
HO- 10 Operation of power-driven meat-processing machines* 29 CFR 570.61
HO- 11 Power-driven bakery machines- 29 CFR 570.62
HO- 12 Power-driven paper-product machines including scrap paper balers and cardboard box compactors* - 29 CFR 570.63 - Child Labor Law Change**
HO- 13 Manufacturing brick, tile, and related products - 29 CFR 570.64
HO- 14 Power-driven circular saws, band saws, and guillotine shears* - 29 CFR 570.65
HO- 15 Wrecking, demolition, and shipbreaking operations - 29 CFR  570.66
HO- 16 Roofing operations* - 29 CFR 570.67
HO- 17 Evacuation operations* - 29 CFR 570.68

*Limited apprentice/student-learner exemptions apply to these occupations.
  • More information about Hazardous Occupation orders can be
  • Remember child labor laws prohibit young workers under the age of 18 from operating hazardous equipment such as:
    • Power-driven meat slicers and meat grinders. This prohibition remains in effect regardless of the materials being processed. For example, slicing vegetables or cheese, with power-driven meat slicers is not allowed.
    • Forklifts.
    • Paper balers and cardboard compactors.
    • Power-driven bakery equipment, such as horizontal or vertical dough mixers, batter mixers, and dough sheeters.
    • Power-driven woodworking equipment, including chain saws and circular saws.
    • Freight elevators.
    • Other machines specifically prohibited by the youth employment hazardous occupations orders.
  • Child labor laws and the driving of motor vehicles:
  • **Child labor law and balers and compactors: 
  • The DOL encourages employers to label equipment young workers are not allowed to operate. The YouthRules! website has available downloadable stickers for employers to place on hazardous equipment to alert all workers that no one under age 18 may operate the equipment.
  • The jobs a 14- or 15-year-old may do in the retail and service industries include:
    • Seating and greeting guests.
    • Taking food orders and "bussing" tables.
    • Cooking at soda fountains, lunch counters, snack bars, or cafeteria serving counters which are in plain view of the customer.
    • Assembling and bagging orders at quick-service establishments.
    • Kitchen work and other work involved in preparing and serving food and drinks, including the operation of machines and devices used in the performance of such work such as dishwashers, toasters, dumbwaiters, popcorn poppers, milk shake blenders, and coffee grinders, but not cooking or baking.
    • Cleaning fruits and vegetables.
    • Wrapping, weighing, pricing, stocking any goods as long as the young worker does not work where meat is being prepared and does not work in freezers or meat coolers.
    • Pricing and tagging goods, assembling orders, packing, or shelving.
    • Clean-up work and grounds maintenance. The young worker may use vacuums and floor waxers, but cannot use power-driven mowers, cutter, and trimmers.
    • Errand and delivery work by foot, bicycle, and public transportation.
    • Office and clerical work.
  • A 14- or 15-year-old may not work in the manufacturing or mining industries, or in any hazardous job and may not perform jobs in the food service industry such as:
    • Baking.
    • Cooking (except at soda fountains, lunch counters, snack bars, or cafeteria serving counters).
    • Working in freezers or meat coolers.
    • Operating, setting up, adjusting, cleaning, oiling, or repairing power-driven food slicers, grinders, choppers or cutters, and bakery mixers.
    • May not operate Neico broilers, pressurized fryers, rotisseries, lawn mowers and "weed whackers."
    • Loading or unloading goods on or off trucks, railcars or conveyors.
    • Outside window washing that involves working form window sills and all work that requires the use of ladders or their substitutes.
    • Work in connection with maintenance or repair of the establishment, machines, or equipment. 
Employment Standard Administration Wage and Hour -Additional Fact Sheets and Guides: books For more information see Resources - State Laws, or Child Labor Laws.

Additional Information:
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