Labor Dept to let teens work longer hours in hazardous jobs: report

 Labor Dept to let teens work longer hours in hazardous jobs: report
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The Trump Labor Department wants to loosen protections that prevent teenagers from working longer hours at hazardous workplaces, Bloomberg Law reported Tuesday.

Sources familiar with the move told Bloomberg law that the Labor Department is going to propose relaxing some decades-old Hazardous Occupations Orders (HO).

The current rules allow some 16- and 17-year-old apprentices and high school students to receive very limited exemptions to work in hazardous occupations — usually no more than an hour a day.


Some of these dangerous jobs include roofing work or operating chainsaws and other powerful machinery deemed too dangerous for those under 18. 

Bloomberg Law obtained the draft regulatory agenda notice, which the Department of Labor expects to introduce by October to the hazardous occupations provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The administration will give notice of the proposed rule later this week, Bloomberg reported.

“The Department proposes to safely launch more family-sustaining careers by removing current regulatory restrictions on the amount of time that apprentices and student learners may perform HO-governed work,” the document reportedly states.

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor declined to comment to Bloomberg Law, but the outlet's anonymous sources said the language is consistent with the department's goals. 

The outlet noted that the proposal would fit into Trump’s deregulation agenda and larger push to scale up the apprenticeship job training program in the U.S.. It would also create job opportunities for students unlikely to attend a four-year university.

However, former Wage and Hour Division official Michael Hancock said the laws exist for a reason.

“When you find 16-year-olds running a meat slicer or a mini grinder or a trash compactor, we know kids are severely injured in those circumstances,” Hancock said. “That’s why the laws exist in the first place.”

Former Obama administration adviser Eric Seleznow told Bloomberg Law the apprenticeships ensure that teenagers entering such careers are safe. He oversaw the Obama-era expansion of the apprenticeship program, but emphasizes restrictions in order to protect youth from occupational hazards.

“I hate to use the word hazardous because 18-year-olds are allowed to do it — a 17-and-a-half-year old is not,” Seleznow said.  “An apprenticeship provides that close supervision on the job, which can help prevent it from being hazardous.”