Agricultural operations are hazardous by nature and special protections need to be in place to protect youth and untrained workers from the hazards found in specific jobs, locations, and practices. With proper job assignments, training, adequate supervision, occupational health and safety education appropriate for the age and developmental level of the learner, and consistent enforcement of work rules, farm work can provide safe and valuable introductory work experiences, and important income opportunities.

The Model Policy: Youth Employment in Agriculture can be used “as is” or modified for agricultural company purposes. The model policy includes voluntary guidelines for hired young farmworkers. Parents who own or operate a farm where their children may engage in farm work activities may find these general guidelines to be useful, as well. This policy addresses traditional agricultural operations, which encompass predominantly field operations, packing of same-farm produced products, and barn-work. For our purposes “young” workers refers to individuals who are 14 through 17 years of age.

Adapting the policy
Employers, employer organizations, health and safety and youth employment programs are encouraged to adapt all or parts of this policy for your specific use and application. Consider including the following:

  • Add company logos
  • Emphasize certain jobs within your area

Model Youth Employment Policy in Agriculture: provides background and details of the policy and its development.

Hired Agricultural Youth Work Guidelines (HAYWG): are user-friendly safety resources on common agricultural work performed by youth; and basic tips for supervisors of adolescent farmworkers

Agricultural Youth Work Guidelines (AYWG): are resources for parents and other adults responsible for children aimed to help determine when a child is developmentally ready to perform a job in the agricultural setting.

Cultivate Safety: is a web-based resource for parents Includes resources on farm safety issues for parents, teachers, employers and others engaged in protecting children and youth on farms.

Agriculture Employee Safety Orientation Checklist: is a template for employers and others to use to assist with important topics to cover before employees begin work and periodically for review.

Safety in Agriculture for Youth (SAY) Project: these are resources on health and safety curricula for youth working in agriculture.

Accident Prevention Program in Agriculture, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries: provides a template for employers to identify hazards and injury prevention strategies specific to their workplace.

National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE): is a resource for employers that includes positions on children and youth in the agricultural workplace.

US Department of Labor Agriculture Child Labor Rules and other resources

Heat Illness Prevention: standards and guidance for Washington and California: provides guidance where children and youth may be working in extreme heat include the state regulations

Recommended citation for Model Policy only:
Miller ME, Salzwedel MA and Lee BC (2014). Model Policy: Youth Employment in Agriculture. National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Safety and Health. Marshfield, WI.

Reference for model policy and background information:
Miller, ME and Lee, BC (2014). Developing a Model Policy on Youth Employment in Agriculture. Journal of Agromedicine,19(3): 249-257.

Contact Information
Mary E. Miller, MN, RN, Child Labor/Young Worker Specialist 

Marsha Salzwedel, EdD, Agricultural Youth Safety Specialist
Phone: 800.662.6900, Ext 8

Barbara Lee, PhD, RN, Director, National Children's Center for Agricultural Safety and Health
Phone: 800.662.6900, Ext 2

Funding for this project was provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Award 5U54OH009568 through the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. [The policy does not reflect an official position of NIOSH as the primary funding agency].