New age limits for young workers in B.C. come into force on Jan. 1
Health & Safety Legislation british columbia Young Workers
New regulations on the types of work that are not suitable for young workers in British Columbia take effect on Jan. 1.
Following public and stakeholder consultations and analyses of injury data, a number of jobs within several industries were identified as too hazardous for young workers, the province said. This includes some jobs within construction, forestry, food processing, oil and gas and power, and asbestos removal.
Amendments to the Employment Standards Regulation were announced in October 2022.
The new rules outline certain jobs that require a minimum age of 18, such as work as a logger, jobs in smelters, in oil drilling or where there is a risk of exposure to certain harmful materials.
For construction work, fish processing and some animal processing work, a minimum age of 16 is deemed appropriate. (Full list below.)
Exemption for skilled trades
To ensure youth can still access important apprenticeship and training opportunities, the age restrictions do not apply to industry training programs overseen by SkilledTradesBC.
As well, current employees who reach the prescribed age by April 1, 2023, are excluded from the age requirements.
In B.C. the average annual injury rate in 2021 was 2.2 per 100 workers, but some jobs have much higher injury rates. For example:
- framers in the construction industry have an injury rate of 7.8 per 100 workers;
- workers in abattoirs have an injury rate of 15.7 per 100 workers; and
- manual tree fallers/buckers have an injury rate of almost 20 per 100 workers.
Between 2012 and 2021, WorkSafeBC data revealed more than $26.4 million was paid out in job-related disability claims for workers who were aged 16 to 18 at the time of their injury.
Full list of minimum working age by job
A minimum age of 16 to undertake the following activities:
- forest firefighting; and
- working from heights that require fall protection.
A minimum age of 18 to undertake the following activities:
- 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;
- work with dangerous equipment in fish, meat or poultry processing facilities;
- silica process/exposure to silica dust;
- work in which a worker is or may be exposed to potentially harmful levels of asbestos;
- exposure to harmful levels radiation;
- working in a confined space or underground workings; and
- work requiring a respirator.