The child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are intended to protect the educational opportunities of minors and prohibit their employment in jobs and under conditions which are detrimental to their health or well-being. These provisions include restrictions on the types of jobs that minors may perform. One such provision, Hazardous Occupations Order No. 12 (HO 12), prohibits minors under 18 years of age from loading, operating, and unloading certain power-driven paper processing machines, including scrap paper balers and paper box compactors.

Public Law 104-174, which the President signed on August 6, 1996, amends section 13(c) of the FLSA to modify HO 12. The amendment changes HO 12 to permit minors 16 years of age or older to load — but not operate or unload — certain scrap paper balers and paper box compactors ONLY IF all of the following requirements are met:

  • The employer must ensure that the equipment meets, and continues to meet, the American National Standards Institute's Standard ANSI Z245.5-1990 for scrap paper balers or Standard ANSI Z245.2-1992 for paper box compactors (ANSI).
  • Prior to permitting minors under age 18 to load materials into balers and compactors, the employer must provide a notice and post a notice on each piece of equipment that:
    • The equipment meets the appropriate ANSI standard named above, and
    • 16- and 17-year-olds may only load the equipment,
    • Any employee under age 18 may not operate or unload such equipment.
      • The equipment must include an on-off switch incorporating a key-lock or other system, and the control of the system must be maintained in the custody of employees who are 18 years of age or older.
      • The on-off switch of the equipment must be maintained in an off position when the equipment is not in operation.
      • The equipment cannot be operated while it is being loaded.

The language and legislative history of the amendment make it clear that it is the responsibility of the employer to make the initial determination that the equipment to be loaded by 16- and 17-year-olds meet the appropriate ANSI standards. It is also the employer's responsibility to provide the notice and post it on each piece of equipment which is loaded by 16 or 17 year-old workers.

At this time the Department of Labor is developing guidelines and technical information regarding the ANSI standards and their application to individual machines. The Department is working with interested parties to develop tools to facilitate both compliance and implementation of this amendment.

The amendment also requires that all employers subject to the FLSA submit a report to the Secretary of Labor when an injury that requires medical treatment (other than first aid) or death to an employee under 18 years of age occurs as a result of contact with a scrap paper baler or a paper box compactor during the loading, operation, or unloading of the equipment. This reporting obligation, which remains in effect for two years after the enactment of the amendment, requires that such report be submitted within ten days of the occurrence of the injury or death.

The Department will issue guidance in the near future regarding how these reports must be submitted. Until such guidance is issued, employers submitting such reports may send them to the Child Labor and Special Employment Team, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-3510, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, FAX Number (202) 219-5122.

The amendment also provides for the assessment of civil money penalties of up to $11,000 for each violation of the provisions of this amendment.

Public Law 104-174 does not change the current prohibition against minors under 18 years of age operating and unloading power-driven scrap paper balers and paper box compactors.

This publication is for general information and is not to be considered in the same light as official statements of position contained in the regulations.

For additional information, visit our Wage-Hour website and/or call our Wage-Hour toll-free information and helpline, available 8am to 5pm in your time zone, 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243).