Prohibited Duties

Work activities teens are prohibited from doing in non-agricultural jobs

Experience has shown some jobs are potentially hazardous for young workers. Washington State and federal laws spell out which jobs are prohibited for minor workers.

For a list of jobs that youth CAN do according to age, see the U.S. Department of Labor's information on YouthRules! The list is a sample and is not all-inclusive.

Food Service Fact Sheet: A guide to the common questions about what teens under age 18 can and cannot do while working in food service jobs.

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IMPORTANT: All these duties are prohibited regardless of the type of industry. This list includes only the main highlights of the child labor regulations. For more detail, see the regulations linked at the bottom of each section.

All minors under 18 are prohibited from doing the following work in any industry

Prohibited duties in restaurants and delis and grocery stores
  • Operating meat slicers or powered bakery equipment such as a Hobart mixer.
  • Regular driving of motor vehicles to make deliveries, such as pizza delivery.
    (No driving at all allowed for those 16 or under)
    Acrobat PDF file (See Administrative Policy - Driving by Minors in Non-Agricultural Jobs- ES.C.4.3) (52 KB PDF)
  • Driving a forklift.
  • Working at heights greater than 10 feet off the ground or floor level.
  • Loading, operating or unloading of paper balers and compactors.
  • Work in freezers and meat coolers in processing facilities.
  • Slaughtering, meat packing or food processing.
  • Working alone past 8 p.m. without supervision by someone 18 years or older who is on the premises at all times.
Prohibited duties in construction-related activities
  • Roofing - All work on or around a roof.
  • Working at heights greater than 10 feet off the ground.
  • Wrecking and demolition.
  • Elevators, hoists and cranes.
  • Flagging.
  • Trenching or excavating.
  • Boilers or in engine rooms.
  • Power-driven woodworking machines.
  • Earth-moving machines.
  • Explosives.
  • Mining.

    * Note: Those who are 16 and older can perform certain tasks related to electrical work that are not otherwise prohibited. Information about the electrical trainee application can be obtained at the L&I Trades and Licensing Electrical Trainee Requirements Web page.

Other prohibited job duties
  • 17-year-olds may drive only under very limited circumstances.
    Acrobat PDF file (See Administrative Policy - Driving by Minors in Non-Agricultural Jobs- ES.C.4.3) (52 KB PDF)
  • Firefighting.
  • Logging and sawmill work.
  • Selling candy, flowers, or other items to motorists on a public roadway.
  • Work performed more than 10 feet above ground or floor level.
  • Manufacturing of brick, tile and similar products.
  • Jobs where exposures require the use of respiratory protection or hearing protection.
  • Work in saunas or massage parlors.
  • Nurses' aide or nurses' assistant, unless the minor is in a state-certified program.
  • Jobs with possible exposure to bodily fluids, or radioactive and hazardous substances.
    Acrobat PDF file (See Administrative Policy - Bloodborne Pathogens and Minors - ES.C.4.2) (47 KB PDF)
For more details, see:

WAC 296-125-030 for Prohibited and Hazardous Employment for All Minors.

Additional prohibited duties for minors under 16

  • Driving an automobile.
  • House-to-house sales.
  • Cooking and baking.
  • Operating or cleaning meat slicers.
  • Operating food processors.
  • Any power-driven machinery.
  • Construction.
  • Manufacturing.
  • Processing operations.
  • Public messenger.
  • Amusement parks.
  • Loading or unloading trucks.
  • Transportation, warehouse, storage and work around conveyors.
  • Ladders and scaffolds, including window washing.
  • Maintenance and repair in gas stations.
For more details, see:

WAC 296-125-033 for additional restrictions for those under 16.

Student-Learner Exemption Requirements for the Prohibited Hazardous Occupations

Partial Exemptions from Non-Agricultural Hazardous Order Prohibitions.

There are limited exemptions from some of the hazardous occupations rules that allow 16- and 17-year-old student-learners to perform the prohibited work (hazardous jobs) in a paid work-based learning experience if certain conditions are met.

The federal hazardous occupations (HO) and state prohibited duties for non-agricultural jobs that youth may perform if these conditions are met are the same and include:

See the U.S. Department of Labor’s summary of exemptions:

Additional Washington State Exemptions:

There are additional restricted work activities under Washington State law that may be considered for a variance on a case-by-case basis:

  • Required use of hearing protection under the DOSH Hearing Conservation Standard (i.e. at or above 85 Dba) (WAC 296-125-030(22)).
  • Work that may involve exposure to bloodborne pathogens under the DOSH Bloodborne Pathogens standard, (WAC 296-125-030(24)).
  • Work that may involve exposure to hazardous chemicals or substances under the DOSH Hazard Communication Standard (WAC 296-125-030(25)).

An exemption applies if:

  1. The student-learner is enrolled in a course of study and training in a cooperative vocational training program under a recognized State or local educational authority or in a course of study in a substantially similar program by a private school; and
  2. The student-learner is employed under a written agreement which provides that:
    1. The work of the student-learner in the occupations declared particularly hazardous shall be incidental in the training;
    2. Such work shall be intermittent and for short periods of time, and under the direct and close supervision of a qualified and experienced person;
    3. Safety instruction shall be given by the employer with on-the-job training; an
    4. A schedule of organized and progressive work processes to be performed on the job shall have been prepared.

The key to all that is that the prohibited work activity can be performed only in certain circumstances and only if it is incidental and intermittent. The minor is not to be performing the task as a regular employee would. The student-learner can not be the principal operator of the prohibited machinery, and must work under the close supervision of a fully qualified and experienced adult. The student can operate the machinery only during their training experience, not for an entire work shift. Copies of all relevant agreements between the school and employer must be in place at both the school and the employer settings.

Student Volunteers and Workers’ Compensation Coverage Fact Sheet

This fact sheet covers availability, limitations and cost of Washington State's optional workers' compensation coverage for student volunteers who are in grades K-12, including those working in unpaid work-based learning placements. This coverage provides payment for medical costs for injuries that occur at a worksite for student-learners who are not paid employees.

For more information, see the L&I publication:
Acrobat Document Teens at Work: Facts for Employers, Parents and Teens. (106 KB PDF)
Acrobat Document Use of Powered Lawn care Equipment. (57 KB PDF)
Acrobat Document Parent Authorization Summer Work (165 KB PDF)

For more detail, see L&I Administrative Policy:
Acrobat Document Bloodborne Pathogens and Minors (ES.C.4.2). (114 KB PDF)
Acrobat Document Driving by Minors in Non-Agricultural Jobs (ES.C.4.3). (52 KB PDF)
Acrobat Document Protocol for Student Learner Exemption ( ES.C.11). (270 KB PDF)

For more detail, see Washington Administrative Code:
Prohibited and hazardous employment for all minors (WAC 296-125-030)
Additional restrictions for those under 16 (WAC 296-125-033)
Non-agricultural Employment of Minors (WAC 296-125)

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