November 2, 2018

2018 Media Alert: AIHA Comments on Expanding Employment, Training, and Apprenticeship Opportunities for 16- and 17-Year-Olds in Health Care Occupations

What: On November 1, 2018, AIHA submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Labor on their proposed rule on the expansion employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities for 16-and-17-year-olds in healthcare occupations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (Docket Number: 2018-20996 / RIN: 1235-AA22)

Why: Through this rulemaking, the U.S. Department of Labor proposes to remove the prohibition regarding the independent operation of power-driven patient lifts by 16- and 17-year-olds from the Department’s Hazardous Occupations Orders (HO) 7. AIHA is concerned that the Department provides no scientific evidence for this proposed rule. Protecting workers and patients is the first priority, standing before all others. It is possible that the technologies of power-driven patient lifts and healthcare industry work environments have improved since the 2010-2011 changes to HO 7, such that the hazards to 16- and 17-year-olds have been reduced. However, the Department has provided no evidence that this is the case, and absent a new study by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), it would be irresponsible to place young workers at greater risk in an industry with one of the highest rates of injuries based upon a handful of letters and tangential anecdotes.

For these reasons, AIHA strongly urges the Department to protect America’s young healthcare workers by taking the following steps:

  • Issuing a new rule that would prohibit 16- and 17-year-olds from manually lifting patients who cannot bear weight;
  • Maintaining the current conditions under which 16- and 17-year-olds can operate power-driven patient lifts under Hazardous Occupations Order 7;
  • Asking NIOSH to revisit the work it conducted from 2010 to 2011, and conduct a new assessment to determine the circumstances, if any, that 16- and 17-year-olds can safely operate power-driven patient lifts, either independently or as part of a team with another employee who is at least 18 years of age.

Who: Founded in 1939, AIHA is a nonprofit organization serving professionals dedicated to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control, and confirmation of environmental stressors in or arising from the workplace that may result in injury, illness, impairment, or affect the well-being of workers and members of the community. We provide comprehensive education programs and other products and services that help its members maintain the highest professional standards. More than half of the nearly 8,500 members are certified industrial hygienists (CIHs) and many hold other professional designations. AIHA serves as a resource for those employed in the industrial, consulting, academic, and government sectors.

Where: To view AIHA’s comments on this rulemaking, please visit Federal and State Letters and Testimonies.

Contact: For additional information please contact Mark Ames, AIHA’s Director of Government Relations.