A new Labor Department rule, which would ease restrictions on teenagers’ use of mechanical lifts in nursing homes, has passed presidential review. Last month, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget completed its initial analysis of the proposed regulation. “Expanding Employment, Training and Apprenticeship Opportunities for 16- and 17-Year-Olds in Healthcare Occupations Under the Fair Labor Standards Act” would drop the age required to operate power-driven lifts in nursing and other healthcare facilities, Bloomberg Law reports.
The proposed rule was first sent to the White House for review July 14, and the OMB has since met with union officials, patient advocates and medical professionals to gather feedback. No draft of the legislation has been made public at this stage.
Members of the provider and business communities have favored the chance to broaden employment opportunities for teens to help fill vacancies, Bloomberg notes. Experts and consumer advocates worry that teenagers do not have the experience, training, or education to provide custodial care to elderly vulnerable residents, and may lead to injuries and even abuse. But others have worried that the rule change could place young workers in danger. A group of 47 House democrats sent a letter to the heads of the OMB and the Department of Labor last month, urging them to pump the breaks on the idea.
“Weakening protections for young workers could reverse the progress of lowering fatalities among young workers and further jeopardize their health and safety,” representatives wrote in August.