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MN Group Pushing to Lower Age for Construction Work

Monday, February 11, 2019

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Organizations in Minnesota are seeking to change a state law that prohibits minors from working on construction sites.

According to Finance & Commerce, industry group BATC-Housing First Minnesota is leading the charge and wanted to see teens ages 16 and 17 permitted onto job sites.

The Rules

While Minnesota law does permit work for teens 16 and older, there are number of occupations that are deemed too hazardous “or detrimental to the wellbeing of minors” and the construction industry is prohibited altogether.

JoeChristensen / Getty Images

Organizations in Minnesota are seeking to change a state law that prohibits minors from working on construction sites.

Executive Director o BATC-Housing First, David Siegel, told F&C that the work shortage is proof that things need to change.

“There seems to be general recognition that we have to do a better job of providing technical career exposure to young people, because for a lot of young people, it’s the right thing for them,” Siegel said.

The group is proposing that the age requirement be lowered with restrictions, of course, on what kind of work is permitted.

“You can put some restrictions on the equipment they would use, height, things like that, to ensure they’re safe,” he said. “I think it’s more about exposure on the job site. It doesn’t have to be a full-on construction opportunity. It’s how do we get them seeing what it’s like and experiencing, ‘Wow, this is something I really want to do.’”

Proponents argue that opening up the hiring for menial tasks would free up the more skilled workers, essentially making it a win-win for everyone involved.

Those who oppose, though, are hung up on the issue of safety. In addition, the president of the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council, Harry Melander, said that he would like to see further discussion about training partners so that the shift would be creating opportunities for lifelong workers and “not just another summer job.”

F&C reports that, according to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, a major law change might not even be necessary as the Child Labor Standards Act grants permission to the department’s commissioner to review rules deemed appropriate.

   

Tagged categories: Good Technical Practice; Government; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; North America; Safety

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