School is back in session in Florida. Teenagers who have worked summer jobs — hopefully without any injuries requiring a workers’ compensation case of any kind — are back in the classrooms, others are still working part time after school. Responsible employers know that there are special job safety rules for teens.

There are specific rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when it comes to work in industries like construction, restaurants and grocery stores for teenagers. The rules are there to keep teens safe while at work. Under the rules, some tasks are completely prohibited altogether.

At the Law Office of Brian D. Tadros, we thought it was a good time to look at some of the regulations for the teen employees that companies may be hiring to work after school.

We are just giving a few of the regulations for teen workers in construction, restaurants and grocery stores. (More complete information can be found here.)

If a person is under age 15, they can’t work in construction at all.

Those 16-18 can work in construction, but there are many types of equipment they are not allowed to operate. The FLSA dictates that they must not drive a motor vehicle or operate power woodworking machinery (like drills or nail guns). The same goes for forklifts, cranes, hoists, elevators and tools such as circular saws, band saws or guillotine shears. Wrecking and demolition are out, as are operational roles in roofing or excavation.

WORK-INJURY PREVENTION TIP: Make sure safety equipment is properly sized.

Fourteen-to-15-year-olds can work in restaurants and grocery stores, but there are limitations. They are prohibited from baking. They can only dispose of cooking oil that is 100 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and they are not to operate, adjust, clean, assemble or power-driven machines like food grinders. These teens also can’t work in meat coolers or freezers, for example.

Sixteen-to-17-year-olds also can’t use, clean, adjust or assemble power-driven machines in restaurants or grocery stores. With a few exceptions, they also can’t drive on the job.

WORK-INJURY PREVENTION TIP: Do not let employees who are minors perform a task they haven’t been trained to do.

Grocery stores
Many of the job safety rules for teens are the same for restaurants as they are for grocery stores. No one under age 18 can load a compactor or baler, for example. They also can’t operate, clean or assemble meat-processing equipment.

Those who are 14 to 15 years old are not allowed to help load or unload trucks or conveyor belts in grocery stores, either.

WORK-INJURY PREVENTION TIP: Never allow teenagers to work alone.

Again, this is only a partial list of FLSA job safety rules for teens in three industries. More information can be found here. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure all your employees, no matter their age, stay safe!

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Brian Tadros

Mr. Tadros has been a member of the Florida Bar for over 15 years. Over the course of his legal career, Mr. Tadros has represented injured workers, employers, and insurance companies. This wide variety of experience provides him with a unique perspective which assists him in achieving the best possible outcome for his clients.


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