WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 08, 2010, 09:29 AM

Federal law prevents teenage employees from performing certain tasks

Enderlin, ND (WDAY TV) - A new federal law that prevents teenage employees from some duties is stirring some controversy. Rural medical centers and nursing homes that often rely on teenage help are now left 2nd guessing hiring from that age group. By law, they can't perform one of the most basic and simplest tasks of the job.

There are about 15 people at Maryhill Manner who need to be hoisted 5 to 10 times daily. A task that now has to be done by someone 18-years old or older.

"They have chosen this field of work, they have gone through the training, they have worked hard to get their CNA card, and then all of the sudden we're saying one aspect, which is a big aspect of what they actually do, and they’re not allowed to do."

Care Coordinator Deb Jordet says it's one of the most basic tasks done by employees. Right now the business has one person on staff under 18-years old.

"She feels quite badly about it because she feels that she's not holding her own weight."

The home has had up to 5 high school students working there at once. Jordet says the job is great experience for anyone looking to go into a medical field, but with the new law she says she'll shy away from hiring a teenager.

"As much as a I hate to admit it, I would."

Employees go through an extensive 2-week training course for things like using the lifts. Jordet says it's not a dangerous task, but what is dangerous is lifting a person manually without a lift.

"Workforce safety shows that there have been no issues with mechanical lifts at any age group."

Management has contacted politicians asking them to re-look the law, saying if anyone would come watch a lift being used they'd see there's nothing dangerous about it. The nursing home was notified about the law through a letter this summer.