Prohibited Duties

Work Activities Teens Are Prohibited From Doing in Agricultural Jobs

Experience has shown some jobs are potentially hazardous for young workers. Washington State and federal laws spell out which jobs are prohibited for minors working in agriculture.

The following is a general outline of prohibited duties for minors working in agricultural jobs. For a complete list, contact your local L&I office. You can also go to the text of the Washington Administrative Code, WAC 296-131-125, for prohibited and hazardous employment duties.

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All minors under 18 are prohibited from doing the following work in agricultural jobs

  • Handling, mixing, loading or applying dangerous pesticides.
  • Transporting, transferring or applying anhydrous ammonia.
  • Harvesting crops before the pre-harvest interval expires or within 14 days of applying chemicals, if no pre-harvest interval exists. (The pre-harvest interval is the amount of time that must pass between applying the last pesticide and harvesting the crop.)
  • Work involving slaughtering and meat processing.
  • Operating power saws, power-driven woodworking and metal-forming machines, and punching or shearing machines.
  • Handling or using blasting agents, such as dynamite or blasting caps.
  • Work involving wrecking, roofing, demolition and excavation.

Additional restrictions for 14 and 15-year-old minors working in agricultural jobs

  • Operating a tractor of over 20 PTO horsepower, or connecting or disconnecting implements from such a tractor.
  • Driving a bus, truck or automobile that carries passengers.
  • Working from a ladder or scaffold at a height over 20 feet.
  • Working in a farmyard, pen or stall occupied by a bull, boar or stud horse maintained for breeding purposes.
  • Working inside a fruit or grain storage area designed to retain an oxygen-deficient or toxic atmosphere, or working in a manure pit.
  • Operating or helping to operate machines such as corn pickers, hay balers and mowers and grain combines.
  • Performing manufacturing, meatpacking or food-processing work.
  • Working in transportation, warehouse and storage or construction.
  • Working in or around engine or boiler rooms.

Student-Learner Exemption Requirements for the Prohibited Hazardous Occupations

Please refer to WAC 296-131-125(3) ( for information related to this area.

An exemption applies if:

  1. The student-learner is enrolled in a course of study and training in a cooperative vocational training program under a recognized State or local educational authority or in a course of study in a substantially similar program by a private school; and
  2. The student-learner is employed under a written agreement which provides that:
    1. The work of the student-learner in the occupations declared particularly hazardous shall be incidental in the training;
    2. Such work shall be intermittent and for short periods of time, and under the direct and close supervision of a qualified and experienced person;
    3. Safety instruction shall be given by the employer with on-the-job training; and
    4. A schedule of organized and progressive work processes to be performed on the job shall have been prepared.

The key to all that is that the prohibited work activity can be performed only in certain circumstances and only if it is incidental and intermittent. The minor is not to be performing the task as a regular employee would. The student-learner can not be the principal operator of the prohibited machinery, and must work under the close supervision of a fully qualified and experienced adult. The student can operate the machinery only during their training experience, not for an entire work shift. Copies of all relevant agreements between the school and employer must be in place at both the school and the employer settings.

Student Volunteers and Workers’ Compensation Coverage Fact Sheet (F213-023-000)

This fact sheet covers availability, limitations and cost of Washington State's optional workers' compensation coverage for student volunteers who are in grades K-12, including those working in unpaid work-based learning placements. This coverage provides payment for medical costs for injuries that occur at a worksite for student-learners who are not paid employees.

For more information see the L&I publication:
Young Workers in Agriculture (F700-096-909)

For more detail, see L&I Administrative Policy:
Adobe PDF file Process Protocol for Work-Based Learning Student Variance ( ES.C.11) (103 KB PDF)

For more detail, see Washington Administrative Code:
Agriculture Prohibited Duties (WAC 296-131-125) (

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