Press Release

Press Release AG Healey Leads States in Opposing Trump Administration’s Proposed Rule Change That Threatens the Safety of Young Workers

U.S. Department’s Proposed Rule Change Will Endanger Young Workers and the Safety of Vulnerable Patients in Health Care Facilities
For immediate release:
12/12/2018
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
  • The Attorney General's Fair Labor Division

Media Contact for AG Healey Leads States in Opposing Trump Administration’s Proposed Rule Change That Threatens the Safety of Young Workers

Meggie Quackenbush

BostonAttorney General Maura Healey today led a coalition of 12 attorneys general in opposing a rule change proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor that would allow young people to operate power-driven patient lifts without training or supervision. This change would endanger the health and safety of young workers and residents in health care facilities that rely on these lifts.

The U.S. Department of Labor currently allows 16- and 17-year-old workers to operate power-driven patient lifts, but only after they have been trained and only under the supervision of an adult caregiver. These lifts are used in nursing homes, residential facilities, and hospitals to lift and move patients who get up without assistance.

In today’s comments, the states contend that the proposed rule change to Hazardous Occupation Order 7 is not based on reliable evidence but is based on an unscientific online survey with 22 respondents. 

“This proposed rule creates a serious threat to the health and safety of young workers and the vulnerable patients in their care,” AG Healey said. “To ensure the safety of our residents and workers, we urge the Administration to withdraw this proposal.”

Under the Department of Labor’s current rules, young people are prohibited from operating power-driven patient lifts unless they meet certain requirements, such as receiving assistance from a trained adult worker, completing a 75-hour nurse’s aide training course, or receiving required notice from their employer. The Department’s rule change now removes the prohibition entirely, thus allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to operate a power-drive patient lift without any training or adult supervision.

As the comments point out, injury rates for patient aides in the health care industry are extremely high, “with a significant risk for musculoskeletal injury while using the lifts. Due to these high risk factors, both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Veteran’s Health Administration recommend that at least two people operate patient lifts.

The Department explains that the proposed rule is intended to “enhance employment, training, and apprenticeship opportunities for 16- and 17-year-olds in health care occupations in the United States while maintaining worker safety.” Yet, as the comments argue, the Department provides no evidence that allowing youth to operate power-driven patient lifts without training or supervision will improve job or training prospects.  

Joining AG Healey in sending today’s comments are the attorneys general of California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Amy Goyer with assistance from Division Chief Cynthia Mark, both of AG Healey’s Fair Labor Division, and State Enforcement Counsel Genevieve Nadeau.

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Media Contact for AG Healey Leads States in Opposing Trump Administration’s Proposed Rule Change That Threatens the Safety of Young Workers

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The Attorney General's Fair Labor Division 

The Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division protects workers from exploitation and sets a level playing field for employers. We enforce wage and hour, public construction, and child labor laws.

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