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News Release

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Proposal to Allow Younger Americans to Safely Develop Skills for Careers in Healthcare

WASHINGTON, DC – With over 1.1 million jobs currently open in healthcare and social assistance, the U.S. Department of Labor today announced a proposal to allow younger Americans to safely develop critical skills for fast-growing jobs in healthcare – which are expected to add 2.4 million jobs, more than any other occupation, through 2026.

A regulation that took effect in 2010 treats healthcare patient lifts on par with construction equipment like backhoes, cranes, and other industrial equipment with respect to youth employment. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, proposes lifting the restrictions that bar 16- and 17-year-olds from operating patient lifts.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers and the regulated community have criticized the 2010 regulation on the grounds that it unnecessarily deprives youth of valuable skills development opportunities; exacerbates staffing shortages at healthcare facilities; delays the care patients receive; and causes youth to manually lift patients – even though using patient lifts is widely recognized as safer. 

This NPRM is consistent with the Department’s efforts to safely promote workforce development opportunities for youth, while still maintaining worker safety. The Department encourages interested parties to submit comments on the proposed rule, which will be available for public comment for 60 days.

Office of the Secretary
September 26, 2018
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Media Contact: Eric Holland
Phone Number