Excavation Operations – FLSA Child Labor Laws for 16 and 17 Year Olds


The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits employers from employing any child under 18 years of age because they are considered to be particularly hazardous or detrimental to youth health or welfare, except those employed in a qualified apprenticeship or student-learner program, in the following occupations:

  • excavating, working in, or backfilling (refilling) trenches, except:
    • manually excavating or manually backfilling trenches that do not exceed four feet in depth at any point
    • working in trenches that do not exceed four feet in depth at any point
  • excavating for buildings or other structures or working in such excavations except:
    • manually excavating to a depth not exceeding four feet below any ground surface adjoining the excavation
    • working in an excavation not exceeding four feet below any ground surface adjoining the excavation
    • working in an excavation where the side walls are shored or sloped to the angle of repose
  • working in tunnels prior to the completion of all driving and shoring operations
  • working within shafts prior to the completion of all sinking and shoring operations

29 CFR 570.68



Age certification

Employers who employ minors are not in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor laws if they keep on file unexpired certificates of age for each minor employed which shows the minor is the appropriate age for the work being performed, even if the child turns out not to be the appropriate age. 29 US Code 203(l)(2); 29 CFR 570.5(a); 29 CFR 570.38; 29 CFR 570.121 For more information, visit our page on age certificates.