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Employment standards to change, bring protections to young people: Province

Workers between the ages of 16 and 18 will be more protected at work with changing employment standards.

This is according to the B.C. government, who say under the changes the acceptable age requirement for most types of hazardous work is 18 years old with some exceptions.

The government says the following work activities require the employee to be at least 18:

  • Tree falling and logging
  • Using a chainsaw
  • Work in a production process at a pulp, paper, saw, shake or shingle mill
  • Work in a production process at a foundry, metal processing or metal fabrication operation, refinery or smelter
  • Powerline construction or maintenance where an electrical hazard exists
  • Oil or gas field servicing and drilling
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Other activities that will require workers to be over 18 include dangerous equipment in fish, meat and poultry along with exposure to harmful levels of radiation.

Construction work, fish, some animal processing work, and forest fire fighting can be done at age 16, according to the government.

The new regulations come into effect on Jan. 1.

The government says between 2012 and 2021, more than $26.4 million was paid out in job-related disability claims for workers who were 16 to 18 at the time of injury.

B.C. bakery owner Jessica Kruger says the changes resonate with her after falling off a ladder while painting, leaving life-altering injuries.

“Being so young, I felt like I had a lot to prove and never questioned the safety of any of the jobs I was required to do – there were no restrictions in place demanding I wear a harness and I didn’t know any better,” said Kruger.

“If these regulations had been in place in 2008, I probably wouldn’t require a wheelchair today, so I applaud the B.C. government for working to protect young people now and moving forward.”

Age restrictions do not apply to industry training programs overseen by SkilledTradesBC. Current employees who are six months from reaching the required age will be excluded from the age requirements.

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