Florida Bill Offering Teenagers Technical Work Opportunities Sparks Concerns Over Safety

Published Date: December 29, 2023

In Florida, a newly proposed bill has garnered both attention and concerns. Senate Bill 460, designed to provide teenagers aged 16 and 17 with technical and skilled trade opportunities as an alternative to traditional college and professional careers, is now raising questions about the safety of the work conditions it might expose young workers to.

 

The bill, while aimed at expanding the horizons of young Floridians, particularly those who may not pursue higher education, includes provisions that have stirred controversy:

Work at Heights Over 6 Feet: SB 460 would permit teenagers aged 16 and 17 to work at heights exceeding 6 feet, provided they earn a safety certificate and are under supervision. The goal is to offer young individuals a different career path.

Supervision and Safety Concerns: Critics, including Holly Bullard from the Florida Policy Institute, argue that the bill’s provisions regarding supervision could pose risks. Bullard expressed concerns about the effectiveness of supervision, emphasizing that it doesn’t necessarily entail constant monitoring of young workers. Moreover, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ratio of supervisors to workers raises apprehensions about the practicality of the bill’s safety measures.

Long Work Hours and Overnight Shifts: Another aspect of the bill allows employers to schedule 16- and 17-year-olds for workweeks exceeding 30 hours, including overnight shifts and without mandatory breaks. This provision has prompted concerns, particularly for young workers who may have school obligations the following day.

 

With Florida’s legislative session set to begin on January 9th, these concerns about the bill’s safety implications for young workers are likely to fuel discussions among policymakers. While the bill aims to diversify career opportunities for teenagers, critics argue that additional safeguards are needed to ensure their safety and well-being in the workplace.

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Original Article By Daylina Miller- WLRN

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