Reminder: Law Prohibits Minors Under 18 From Working In Hazardous Occupations

The federal agency with the responsibility to enforce child labor laws in North Carolina, the Wage and Hour Division of the US Department of Labor, recently contacted NCHBA to seek our assistance. Recently, there have been several youth fatalities in the Southeastern part of the US but, fortunately, none in North Carolina. The Federal Labor Standards Act prohibits minors under the age of 18 years to work in any occupation which is deemed to be hazardous including activities common in the residential construction industry. Please review this article for specific examples of these prohibited activities. Also, general contractors should take care to ensure that its subcontractors adhere to the requirements of the law.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibits minors under age 18 years old to work in any occupation that it deems to be hazardous.

Among these occupations are operating types of:

  • power-driven equipment;
  • motor vehicles;
  • using power-driven woodworking machines;
  • using power-driven hoisting apparatus; 
  • using power-driven saws;
  • guillotine shears;
  • abrasive cutting discs; and
  • excavation, or backfilling trenches
  • roofing and any work performed on or about a roof

In the last several weeks, we have seen youth fatalities while working.  The U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division is dedicated to educating employers regarding Child Labor provision to ensure Youth workers find positive, safe employment experiences.  

Recent youth fatalities include:

  • July 24, 2019: Virginia Department of Labor investigating boy’s death in McLean construction accident after falling into a ditch at an excavation site.

  • July 18, 2019: Juvenile male fell from a ladder and died after falling r while working on a two-story home under construction at residential construction site in Clermont, FL.

  • July 1, 2019: 15 year old minor fell nearly 40 feet off of a roof during his first day of on the job as a construction worker

  • May 20, 2019: Teen dies while working with a crew hired to clear brush from a Georgia Power right-of-way, located a mile off of Georgia Highway 3

There are some occupations and work activities in Construction that are prohibited for all employees under the age of 18 –

In the construction industry, the most common hazardous occupations involve:

  • driving motor vehicles;
  • operating power-driven hoisting apparatus (such as cranes, forklifts, construction elevators, loaders, and Bobcats);
  • roofing work and work on or about a roof;
  • working with explosives;
  • operating power-driven woodworking machines and machines that form, punch, or shear metal; wrecking and demolition occupations;
  • operating power-driven saws and cutting devices; and,
  • working in excavation

Although 14 and 15 year-olds may perform office and sales work for construction employers, these minors may not be employed on the construction site. These youth must be employed in compliance with regulations restricting the times of days and number of hours that employees under the age of sixteen may work.


  • They may not work during school hours.
  • They may work no more than three hours on a school day, eight on a non-school day, eighteen in a school week, and forty in a non-school week.
  • Work is permitted only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., except between June 1 through Labor Day when they may work as late as 9 p.m.

14 and 15 year-olds are prohibited from being employed in the following activities:

  • vehicle loading and unloading,
  • warehousing,
  • operating power-driven machinery,
  • maintenance and repair, storage, and
  • work in boiler rooms

All states have instituted child labor laws. Links to your state labor department can be found at:

Increasingly, employers contract out the physical work to smaller subcontractors who employ workers themselves or who further subcontract the work on site. Because subcontractors must compete against numerous other small contractors in their localities to win bids, subcontractors face intense pressure to lower the cost of their services, often at the expense of workers’, including the illegal hiring of child labor.  Ensure your subcontractors understand and abide by Child Labor Laws.

Employers, must know what Youth legally may or may not be able to do in the workplace.  It is the Employer’s responsibility to ensure Youth are not working hours or occupations in violation of Child Labor Laws.  The Wage and Hour Division is here to educate the public with that knowledge.  Our resources include:

Please reach out if you have additional questions or need assistance.

Richard Blaylock

District Director

U.S. Department of Labor

Wage & Hour Division

4407 Bland Road, Suite 260

Raleigh, NC 27609

919-900-2470 office/fax

Bridget Dutton

Community Outreach and Resource Planning Specialist

Wage and Hour Division

U.S. Department of Labor

Direct: 919-900-2475

Fax:   919-900-2475

Cell:    919-923-5855


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