Child Labor Laws & Teen Safety During Summer Jobs


Teenagers look forward to the summer months not only as a chance to get away from homework and studying, but also for the opportunity to earn some extra income. With South Carolina’s booming tourism season, there are plenty of jobs that need to be filled in restaurants, stores and local attractions. At the same time, it is important for parents to set limits in the type of job their teen gets, the conditions they work in, and the number of hours work is performed to prevent on-the-job accidents that could result in serious and in some cases, life threatening injuries. In this article, we’ll discuss child labor laws and teen safety during summer jobs, plus your options for help in the event your teen experiences mistreatment or injury.

South Carolina Child Labor Laws

Under state child labor laws outlined by the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, teens as young as 12 may hold jobs over the summer months. Guidelines for child workers are as follows:

  • Minors age 12 to 13 may work in family owned businesses or perform farm labor and non-hazardous tasks provided they have prior written permission from their parents.

  • Minors between the ages of 14 and 15 may work up to 40 hours a week over summer vacation provided the work does not involve heavy equipment or machinery, the operation of a motor vehicle, the use of ladders or scaffolding, or food preparation.

  • Children aged 16 and over may work in any job deemed non-hazardous and are exempt from all hourly restrictions, both during the summer months and while school is in session.

While children may be old enough to work a variety of positions under state labor laws, their lack of coordination, maturity, and decision making skills can put them at risk for work-related accidents and injuries.

Teen Safety On The Job

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advises that some of the reasons teen workers suffer on the job injuries include lack of proper training or supervision, working on or near dangerous equipment, and pressure to work at a faster rate than they are able. Even in jobs considered non-hazardous, workplace injuries can occur. Situations in which injuries or illnesses are common include:

  • Slips and falls on wet or slippery floors

  • Repetitive stress injuries, such as soft tissue injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Back injuries due to heavy lifting

  • Illnesses and breathing problems due to exposure to cleaning supplies or toxic chemicals

  • Heat-related illnesses, such as dehydration and heat stroke

  • Burns due to contact with hot surfaces or substances

  • Severe cuts and lacerations due to knives or sharp edges

  • Violent interactions with customers or other employees

Get Help Today

Any time an injury occurs on the job, you should report it to the employer and get medical attention as soon as possible. If your child has been injured on the job, contact the Surasky Law Firm, LLC right away. In addition to being eligible for benefits under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation program, your teen may be entitled to compensation through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit filed against the business owner.

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