YW General Woodshop Safety | Labor Regulations


Age Restrictions

Working on a construction site can be particularly hazardous. In fact the construction industry, which employs less than 3% of all young workers, ranks 3rd in the number of work-related fatalities to youth, making up 14% of all work related deaths to youth under age 18.

What kind of jobs can I legally do in construction or the building trades?

Because of the potential danger and hazards of many construction jobs, you are limited to doing only certain kinds of work until you turn 18 years old. Both Washington state regulations and federal government regulations prevent your employer from hiring you to the following kinds of work.

Prohibited construction related jobs for all minors (workers age 17 or younger):

  • Roofing
  • Operating power-driven woodworking machines (some examples include)
    • Drills
    • Nail guns
  • Operating power-driven saws (some examples include)
    • Circular saws
    • Band saws
  • Operating power-driven metal forming machines (some examples include)
    • Metal punching machines
    • Shearing machines
  • Performing work more than 10 feet off the ground
  • Wearing personal protective equipment beyond, boots, gloves or eye protection
  • Driving a motor vehicle (seventeen year-olds may drive under very limited circumstances)
  • Driving a forklift
  • Demolition and wrecking
  • Flagging traffic
  • Work involving excavating
  • Working with earth-moving machines
  • Working with hoists or cranes
  • Sawmill work
  • All construction jobs
  • Loading and unloading trucks
  • Working on ladders or scaffolds

Additional restricted construction related jobs (for minors who are age 15 or younger):

  • All construction jobs
  • Loading and unloading trucks
  • Working on ladders or scaffolds

Special exemptions to these restricted jobs:

In some cases, 16 and 17 year-old students may be allowed to do some of the restricted jobs listed above. In order to do this,

The student must be participating in a cooperative vocational education program, diversified career experience program, or work experience program that is monitored by the students school district and the State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.


The student is involved in an apprenticeship program that is registered with the Washington state apprenticeship and training council.


To get more detailed information about labor regulations for young workers

Fact Sheets:

Teens Workers Have Two Jobs
A fact sheet that summarizes Washington's labor regulations for young workers

Trabajadores adolescents tienen dos empleos
A Spanish version of the fact sheet summarizing Washington's labor regulations for young workers/

Safe Work for Youth in Construction - Information for Employers
A brochure for employers that summarizes what employers need to know about hiring young workers for construction jobs

To view more detailed information about Washington labor regulations that impact young workers go to the 
WA Department of Labor & Industries


< Back to HSAWT Curriculum Materials Home Page

<<HSAWT Home