National Consumers League

Worker Rights

Worker Rights

Worst teen jobs: landscaping

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Landscaping and yard work is a frequent entry point into the job market for teenagers. However, the sharp implements and machinery used to do the work present dangers for teens. Often young workers are left unsupervised for long periods of time. The job also requires a great deal of time spent driving in vehicles which, as we have noted, is a dangerous work-related activity.

These incidents highlight the dangers of outside work:

  • A 15-year-old Florida youth died of electrocution while trimming trees. The youth was standing on an aluminum ladder holding a pole saw when it hit a wire. (May 2005)A 16-year-old Oklahoma youth died when he was struck by lightening while working as a general laborer for a landscaping company. The youth was standing in the bed of a dump truck, where he was manually moving pallets of rocks from the truck to a front-end loader. The youth had worked for the company for three weeks. (July 2004)
  • A 15-year-old Maryland youth was killed when he fell into a mulch spreading truck. The machine, called a bark blower, churns mulch with a large spinning device called an auger and then disperses it through a hose. The machine had jammed and the teen had gotten on top of the truck to see why the mechanism wasn’t working. He had been with the company for a couple of weeks. (May 2004)
  • Landscaping, groundskeeping, and lawn service workers use hand tools such as shovels, rakes, saws, hedge and brush trimmers, and axes, as well as power lawnmowers, chain saws, snow blowers, and power shears. Some use equipment such as tractors and twin-axle vehicles. These jobs often involve working with pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals. Rollovers from tractors, ATVs, and movers are a risk. Tree limb cutting and lifting and carrying inappropriately heavy loads are another potential danger; so is handling chemicals, pesticides, and fuel. Contact with underground or overhead electrical cables presents electrocution dangers.

Federal Child Labor Law

Minors who are age 16 and older may be employed in landscaping and operate power mowers, chain saws, wood chippers, and trimmers. The operation of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or tractors for non-agricultural labor is only prohibited if the equipment is used for transporting passengers, an activity prohibited for minors under age 18.