New Minimum-Age Restrictions for Young Worker Regulations in B.C.Jennifer Wiebe
Changes to the employment standards regulation to protect vulnerable young workers in British Columbia will take effect January 1, 2023.
The Ministry of Labour last week announced the new minimum-age requirements for young workers in a number of manufacturing, construction, and resource-sector jobs. The changes to the employment standard regulations will come into effect in the New Year.
Statistically, more than half of serious injuries happen in a worker’s first six months on the job. The cost is high—to employers and the young workers themselves. In the past decade, WorkSafeBC has paid $26.4 million in job-related disability claims for workers aged 16 to 18 at the time of their injuries. For some young workers, those injuries have resulted in life-long disabilities—and 16 have died in the past five years as a result of workplace incidents.
To protect young workers, the regulations are changing—applying minimum-age restrictions to the most hazardous jobs for young workers in a variety of industries—including a number in the manufacturing and food processing sectors.
- Under the new rules, young workers must be at least aged 16 to work in construction or siviculture, as forest firefighters, or in any job from a height that requires fall protection.
- Young workers will have to be at least aged 18 to work in these jobs:
• Forestry: Any job that uses a chainsaw, including tree falling and logging
• Metals: In production at a foundry, metal processor or fabricator, refinery or smelter
• Pulp and paper: In production at a pulp, paper, shake, shingle, or saw mill
• Power: In power-line construction or maintenance where an electrical hazard exists
• Oil and gas: oil or gas field servicing and drilling
• Food processing: Working with dangerous equipment in fish, meat, or poultry processing
- And across all industries, young B.C. workers will have to be at least aged 18 to work in any job that involves:
• Silica process/exposure to silica dust
• The possibility of exposure to potentially harmful levels of asbestos or radiation
• Work in a confined space or underground workings
• Work requiring a respirator
Workers who are within six months of the minimum age on January 1, 2023, will be grandfathered under the new rules.