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Employment Law -- Employee

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Are Certain Occupations Prohibited For Minors?

According to state law, no one under the age of 18 may be employed in or assist in:

  • Any occupation at construction work, including wrecking, demolition, roofing, or excavating operation and the painting or exterior cleaning of a building structure from an elevated surface.
  • Any occupation involved in the operation of circular saws, bandsaws, and guillotine shears.
  • Any occupation in or about a slaughter and meat­packing establishment, or rendering plant.
  • Any occupation involved in the operation of power­driven woodworking, metal­forming, metal­punching, metal­shearing, bakery and paper products machines.
  • Any occupation involved in the operation of power­driven hoisting apparatus.
  • Any occupation involved in the manufacture of brick, tile, and kindred products.
  • Any occupation involving exposure to radioactive substances or ionizing radiation, or exposure to silica or other harmful dust.
  • Logging occupations and occupations in the operation of any saw mill, lath mill, shingle mill, or cooperage­stock mill.
  • As a helper on a motor vehicle.
  • The care or operation of a freight or passenger elevator, except that minors over l6 may operate automatic, push­button control elevators.
  • Work in manufacturing, packing, or storing of explosives, or in the use or delivery of explosives.
  • Operating or using any emery, tripoli, rouge, corundum, stone, silicon carbide, or any abrasive, or emery polishing or buffing wheel, where articles of the baser metals or iridium are manufactured.
  • Adjusting belts to machinery or cleaning, oiling, or wiping machinery.
  • Packing paints, dry colors, or red or white leads.
  • Preparing any composition in which dangerous or poisonous acids are used.
  • Operating steam boilers subject to Section 204 of the Labor Law.
  • Any occupation in or in connection with a mine or quarry.
  • In penal or correctional institutions, if such employment relates to the custody or care of prisoners or inmates.
  • These prohibitions do not apply to minors younger than 18 who are apprentices individually registered in apprenticeship programs duly registered with the Commissioner of Labor or to student­learners enrolled in recognized cooperative vocational training programs, or to trainees in approved on­the­job training programs.
  • They do not apply to minors 16 to 18 years old who have completed training as a student learner or trainee in an on­the­job training program, or has completed a training program given by a public school or a nonprofit institution, which includes safety instruction approved by the Commissioner of Labor. There are regulations governing the approval of these safety instructions.

State regulations forbid minors under the age of 16 from being employed in or assisting in:

  • Operating or assisting in operating any machinery unless all moving parts other than keys, levers, or handles are so guarded as to prevent any part of the person or clothing of the operator from touching them.
  • Any occupation in or in connection with a factory, except in delivery and clerical employment in an enclosed office of a factory or in dry cleaning stores, shoe repair shops, and similar service stores. Federal law requires that any delivery work for retail stores, which is performed by 14­ and 15­ year­olds be made on foot, by bicycle, or via bus. It also forbids them from working in a place where processing (such as laundering or dry cleaning) takes place.
  • The operation of washing, grinding, cutting, slicing, pressing, or mixing machinery.
  • Painting or exterior cleaning in connection with the maintenance of a building or structure.
  • Any employment in institutions in the Department of Mental Health. (However, participation in recreation and leisure activities, social skills development, companionship and/or entertainment as part of an organized volunteer program approved by the Commissioner of Mental Health does not constitute employment or assistance in employment and may be performed by youthful volunteers at least 14 years of age.)
  • Industrial homework.
  • Places of entertainment as a rope or wire walker or gymnast unless the minor is protected by the use of safety devices or protective equipment, which comply with the provisions of the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act.
  • Peddling; drug traffic; or any practice, exhibition, or place dangerous or injurious to life, limb, or morals.
  • New York State recently adopted regulations for prohibited occupations in agriculture for 14 and 15 year­olds. Contact the Division of Labor Standards for further information.