B.C. changes employment standards to address safety of young workers

Journal of Commerce | DCN-JOC News Services | October 13, 2022

VICTORIA – The Government of British Columbia is changing employment standards to better outline the types of work that are suitable for those aged 16 to 18.

B.C. Ministry of Labour staff developed the rules by examining WorkSafeBC injury data and labour laws in other jurisdictions related to hazardous employment. Based on that information, a B.C. government released stated, a number of jobs within several industries were identified as hazardous for young workers, including areas within construction, forestry, food processing, oil/gas and power and asbestos removal.

“For a young person, working can be a rewarding and valuable experience, important for personal growth and setting them on a path to their own success, but it must be work that is both physically and mentally appropriate for their age, with the necessary training and supervision,” B.C. Minister of Labour Harry Bains said in a statement.

Consultations on the draft rules were held with industry, labour, safety and skills training groups and an online survey was released to the public.

Survey respondents said 18 years old was an appropriate minimum age requirement for most types of hazardous work, with some exceptions, the release stated. Construction work, fishing and some animal processing were deemed appropriate at age 16.

“Through stakeholder meetings and the online survey, we received thoughtful and practical feedback on what age restrictions should be in place,” Bains said. “We have listened to all those perspectives, and developed balanced, reasonable requirements that provide valuable employment opportunities to youth without compromising their safety.”

The age restrictions will not apply to industry training programs overseen by SkilledTradesBC. The regulations come into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. Current employees who are within six months of reaching the prescribed age will be excluded from the age requirements.