deaths of more than 300 children every year are attributed
to agriculture. In 1992, nine deaths of Iowa children under
the age of 16 were farm-related. According to the Iowa Department
of Public Health, an additional 509 Iowans under age 16 suffered
farm-related injuries. In the next age category -- 16 to under
19 years, when many Iowa youth begin working on farms -- there
were an additional 170 farm-related injuries and four deaths.
alarming injury and death rates have focused attention on
the agriculture industry's child work force. As a result,
child labor laws apply to farm owners and operators who employ
persons under the age of 16 years. Compliance with the law
is the employer's responsibility. Failure to comply can result
in fines, legal liability, and a possible jail term.
United States Secretary of Labor defines some agricultural tasks
"hazardous" to persons under the age of 16 years. These youths
may not be employed at any time in these jobs, unless exempted
by a training certificate or special classification. Child labor
laws apply whether or not the youth is paid for work.
farm tasks for minors include:
a tractor larger than 20 horsepower, or connecting/disconnecting
or assisting with machines, including a corn picker, combine,
hay mower, forage harvester, hay baler, feed grinder, crop
dryer, forage blower, auger conveyor, wagon or trailer unloading
mechanism (powered or self-unloading), powered posthole
digger, post driver, non-walking rotary tiller, trencher
or earth-moving equipment, fork lift, and a power-driven
circular, band, or chain saw.
in a livestock yard, pen, or stall occupied by a bull, boar,
or stud horse maintained for breeding purposes, and sow
or cow with newborn offspring.
from a ladder or scaffold above 20 feet, including tasks
that require painting, tree-pruning, or fruit harvest.
on a tractor or transporting passengers in a bus, truck,
inside storage structures for fruit, forage, grain, or manure
that might have an oxygen-deficient or toxic atmosphere,
or working in an upright silo within two weeks after silage
has been added or when top unloading device is operating,
or packing a horizontal silo with a tractor.
or applying farm chemicals classified I or II by the Federal
Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.
or using a blasting agent.
transferring or applying anhydrous ammonia.
under 16 years of age may work on their parents' farm.
There are no legal restrictions for a child who works
on a farm owned and operated by a parent or legal guardian.
However, Iowa law requires the parent to have control
of the day-to-day operations of the farm, and to be on
the premises when the child is working. All legal restrictions
apply for any other close relatives.
under 16 years of age may work as student learners.
Youth enrolled in a vocational agriculture program may
perform any of the first six hazardous tasks. These tasks
must be incidental to training, occur for short periods
of time, and be under close supervision of a qualified
person. The primary function of the work is to expand
the student's educational experience. Special coordination
between employer, employee, and the school is required.
under 16 years of age may work if they have completed a
certified tractor or machine operation training course.
This exemption is part of the 4-H Federal Extension Service
Training Program, which allows 14- and 15-year-olds to
perform hazardous tasks in the first two categories (listed
above). Most courses are available from local extension
offices, generally in the spring, and require a course
A similar course is offered through public school systems
by the Vocational Agriculture Training Program. Information
is available from the vocational agriculture teacher in
the local school district.
under 16 years of age may detassel corn during summer months.
Iowa code exempts work in the production of seed, limited
to removal of corn tassels and hand-pollination, during
the months of June, July, and August. Youth can work from
a detasseling machine, but they are not allowed to operate
under the age of 16 only can be employed part-time. According
to Iowa Code, part-time is considered 4 hours per day not
to exceed 28 hours in a seven-day period. Federal law states
that youth may not work during school hours. An exemption
is made in Iowa for detasseling work.
violation of federal child labor laws carries a civil monetary
penalty of up to $1,000. Within 15 days after receipt of
the notice of violation, employers can request an exception
to the law. Willful violation of these laws carry an additional
fine of up to $10,000. Second offenses, committed after
conviction, can result in a $10,000 fine or up to 6 months'
operators can protect themselves from unintentional violation
of child labor laws by keeping an employment or age certificate
on file for every youth under the age of 16 employed in
their operation. The following information is helpful: full
name, home address, date of birth, and a certificate of
Iowa law requires employers to keep work permits on file
for most minor employees. These are issued by the superintendent
of the local school district or the Job Service Division
of the Iowa Department of Employment Service. To get a
permit, the youth worker must provide a written statement
from an employer agreeing to employ the worker and describing
work to be performed. The youth must provide proof of
age, such as a certified copy of a birth certificate,
passport, or record of baptism that includes a date, location,
and certification by a local medical inspector.
Safer working conditions provided by state and federal
child labor laws protect Iowa's youth, a valuable resource.
By following these laws, farm operators also can reduce
the number of Iowa youth who are injured and killed every
year in farm-related tasks.
Much Do You Know?
many Iowans under the age of 16 died in 1992 farm accidents?
violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act can result
in a $10,000 fine. True or false?
who have had no training can operate only tractors that
than 10 horsepower.
than 20 horsepower.
than 50 horsepower.
than 75 horsepower.
maximum of four hours of work per day is considered
part-time employment for persons under age 16. True
may be employed in "hazardous" jobs only by their parents
on the family farm. True or false?
14-year-old girl legally can work on her grandparents'
farm if she is not paid for her work. True or false?
answers at the end of "What Can You Do?".
Can You Do?
business records for required permits that allow you
to employ youth.
various tasks that youth employees may be asked to perform,
and determine whether they are within the limits of
state and federal laws.
the type of work you will require from youth before
you hire them, and appropriate work permits and forms.
with legal counsel for an interpretation of the law
regarding your operation.
1-c; 2-True; 3-b; 4-True; 5-True; 6-False
more details about federal laws, order the free Child
Labor Bulletin No. 102, WH publication #1295, from
the U.S. Department of Labor Employment Standards Administration,
Wage and Hour Division, 210 Walnut St., Des Moines,
Iowa 50309, (515) 284-4625.
more details and specific language in Iowa laws, see
Chapter 32 in Labor Laws of Iowa: Child Labor Statutes
and Rules, Iowa Division of Labor, 1989.
questions on Iowa laws may be answered by contacting
the Iowa Division of Labor, 1000 E. Grand Ave., Des
Moines, Iowa 50309, (515) 281-6306.
publication is not intended to take the place of a legal
document. It is intended to point out various laws regarding
youth workers that may apply in agricultural situations.
Publication #: Pm-1518f
Fact Sheet is apart of
a series from the Safe Farm Program, Iowa State University Extension,
Ames, Iowa. Safe Farm promotes health and safety in agriculture.
It is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health, Iowa State University, and a network of groups
that serve Iowa farm workers and their families. Publication
date: June 1993.
by Charles V. Schwab, extension safety specialist; Nancy Norman,
associate director for Social and Behavioral Research Center
for Rural Health; and Laura Miller, extension communications,
Iowa State University Extension, Ames, Iowa.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.