What are the age requirements for minors operating machinery?

August 27, 2015・2 mins read
What are the age requirements for minors operating machinery?

Age requirements

The Fair Labor Standards Act is responsible for setting hours, wages, and safety requirements for minors. A minor, according to the [Department of Labor, is anyone under the age of 18. But not all minors are eligible for the same work. A minor's ability to operate machinery, for instance, depends on a number of factors including the age of the minor, the kind of machinery, and the type of job that the minor will potentially be doing.

Minors 14 - 15

14 to 15-year-olds may work with:

  • Vacuums and floor waxers
  • Bicycles
  • Cash registers
  • Cooking grills that don't have an open flame, and fryers that have automatically raising and lowering baskets

14 to 15-year-olds may not perform:

  • Baking
  • Operating or assisting operation of power driven machinery
  • All work involving ladders, scaffolds, or similar equipment

Minors 16 - 17

May perform any non-hazardous job (outlined below.)

Hazardous Work - Not For Minors

Minors aren't permitted to work jobs deemed hazardous by the federal government. A few of these roles include:

  • Driving a motor vehicle, or operating outside of a moving motor vehicle
  • Coal mining
  • Logging or sawmilling
  • Meat packing or processing
  • Operating power-driven bakery machines
  • Operating power driven woodworking, metal-forming, or paper producing machines
  • Roofing work


Minors are generally not allowed to operate power-driven machinery for work, or to perform hazardous jobs. For more specific inquiries, check out the lists of prohibited/allowable work for minors in the links below, and don't forget to check out your state's laws for any additional provisions.

Helpful Links:

Hiring Minors for Your Business - Findlaw.com

Prohibited Occupations for Non-Agricultural Employees - DOL.gov

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