Hazardous Work Protections for Youth
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Who: The Ministry of Labour and youth workers
What: Changes to age restrictions for hazardous work
Why: To align with international labour standards and protect young workers
Government has been strengthening B.C.’s employment laws to better protect young people at work. The general working age has been increased from 12 to 16, and “light work” has been defined for those jobs that can be safely performed by children who are 14 and 15, with parental permission. The changes also allow children 12 and over to work for a family business or farm, provided the tasks are safe as set out in the Employment Standards Regulation.
These changes have brought B.C. into alignment with international labour standards aimed at protecting children from dangerous or unsuitable work.
The final phase of these changes, which was the subject of this public engagement, was to examine and define the kinds of work considered too hazardous for young workers under the age of 16, or under 19 if a higher minimum age than 16 is specified for a particular type of hazardous work.
The Ministry of Labour reviewed regulations in other Canadian jurisdictions, as well as WorkSafeBC injury statistics for adult and young workers, and identified a number of jobs to consider placing under a regulation that would set minimum ages for work considered hazardous for young people. Based on this review and the feedback the Ministry received, minimum ages of 16 or 18 were adopted for the work described below. While the work can safely be undertaken by adults, a level of maturity and judgment is required to properly assess risks and use personal protective equipment and safety controls.
To ensure youth can still access important apprenticeship and training opportunities, the age restrictions will not apply to industry training programs overseen by SkilledTradesBC, or school-based work experience programs. The regulations come into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, so that employers have time to adjust the work performed by existing young employees. As well, current employees who will be the required age by April 1, 2023 will be able to keep working.
319 complete survey responses were received. The survey was offered in English, Punjabi, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese.
Following public and stakeholder consultations, government has amended the Employment Standards Regulation, effective Jan. 1, 2023, to prescribe minimum ages of 16 or 18 for certain types of work that is too hazardous for younger workers:
A minimum age of 16 to undertake the following activities:
- Forest firefighting
- Working from heights that require fall protection.
A minimum age of 18 to undertake the following activities:
- Tree falling and logging
- Using a chainsaw
- Work in a production process at a pulp, paper, saw, shake or shingle mill
- Work in a production process at a foundry, metal processing or metal fabrication operation, refinery or smelter
- Powerline construction or maintenance where an electrical hazard exists
- Oil or gas well servicing and drilling
- Work with dangerous equipment in fish, meat or poultry processing facilities
- Silica process/exposure to silica dust
- Work in which a worker is or may be exposed to potentially harmful levels of asbestos
- Exposure to harmful levels of radiation
- Working in a confined space or underground workings
- Work requiring a respirator
Read the What We Heard Report.