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Source: National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety news release

Given the changes in agriculture in recent years and the lack of updated guidance for youth employment, a new voluntary "best practice" model policy has been developed to help fill this gap. It can be adopted in both employment and non-employment settings to help safeguard young farm workers.

"Model Policy: Youth Employment in Agriculture," addresses age- and developmentally-appropriate assignments, training needs for adolescent workers, and ideal supervision and mentoring by adult workers. This approach is consistent with new trends in agriculture to use certification systems, safety audits, and voluntary safety standards in addition to the regulatory process.

The policy, recommendations for its use and resources are posted at

Mary E. Miller, RN, MN, young worker specialist at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, working with Barbara Lee, Ph.D., director, National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, led development of the policy, beginning with discussions at the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE) annual conference in Washington D.C., and continuing with a survey of employers and a task force of NCAE members.

The process resulted in a template that can be customized and adapted for individual companies that employ young workers. The policy process continued the conversation about youth safety after proposed changes to federal agricultural child labor laws were withdrawn by the White House in April 2012.

A manuscript about the policy and its development is featured in the current Journal of Agromedicine (issue 19-3). The abstract can be viewed at http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/wagr20/current.