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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 52

Youth Safety

Instruction:  Chapter 52 is a new chapter established to address safety requirements for minors.

1.  Purpose. 

A.  To establish occupational safety and health related policy and responsibilities for minors either employed by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) or acting as a volunteer.

B.  To define the safety information cooperating and partnering organizations must include in agreements or memorandums of understanding with the USGS.  

2.  Scope.

A.  This chapter applies to:

(1)  Anyone under the age of 18 who performs official work (volunteer or compensated) for the USGS.

(2)  Youth Program Participants under the age of 18.

B.  This chapter does not apply to contractors.  Contractors must comply with the safety and health clauses in their contract agreement and should be advised of the USGS restrictions listed in this chapter.

3.  References.

A.  Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970, Federal Agency Safety and Health Program (Public Law 91-596, Section 19).

B.  Youth Conservation Corps Act (16 U.S.C. 1701-1706).

C.  Government Organization and Employees – Services to Employees; 7901, Health Services Programs; 7902, Safety Programs; 7903, Protective Clothing and Equipment (5 U.S.C. 7901 - 7903).

D.  Executive Order 12196, Occupational Safety and Health Programs for Federal Employees.

E.  Basic Program Elements for Federal Employee Occupational Safety and Health Programs (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1960).

F.  485 DM 1, Safety and Health Program; Authority, Purpose, and Policy.

G.  485 DM 13, Safety and Health Training.

H.  USGS Volunteer for Science Handbook, 500-23-H.

I.  Fair Labor Standards Act: 29 CFR Part 570 – Child Labor Regulations, Orders and Statements of Interpretation.

J.  OSHA’s Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

4.  Definitions.

A.  Volunteer.  Services received from individuals or groups without salary or wage compensation.  Volunteers must sign a Volunteer Services Agreement (OF 301A) and the position task-specific Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) before beginning work.  For more information refer to the Volunteer for Science Handbook, 500-23-H.

B.  Youth Program Participants.  

(1)  Youth Organizations.  These are the organizations (such as the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of America, and 4-H Clubs of America) that have a written agreement or memorandum of understanding with the Department of the Interior (DOI) or USGS.  Written agreements and memorandums of understanding must include the information in 52.5.D. 

(2)  Youth Partnerships.  These are the organizations with which the USGS partners such as the Student Conservation Association (SCA).  A SCA program participant is a high school or college age volunteer recruited through the SCA whose volunteer service is defined under a national agreement.  The agreement includes the information in 52.5.D. 

(3)  Youth Hiring Authorities.  Examples of this type of program include the Youth Conservation Corps and the USGS Pathways Programs.

(4)  Collegiate Partners.  Universities or colleges that have written agreements with the USGS for students or professors to provide research, labor, or other.  The written agreements must include the information in 52.5.D. 

C.  Signal Words.  The signal word indicates the relative degree of severity of the hazard.

(1)  The signal words used in the GHS are "Danger" for the more severe hazards and Warning" for the less severe hazards.

(2)  Some lower-level hazard categories do not use signal words.  Only one signal word corresponding to the class of the most severe hazard should be used on a label.

5.  Requirements.  

A.  Conduct volunteer and youth program activities in a way that will prevent death, occupational illness, injury, or property damage and insure that minors do not actively participate in a hazardous occupation or work activity at the USGS.

B.  Project leaders and supervisors must ensure that volunteers and youth program participants have completed required occupational safety and health training prior to conducting assigned job tasks.

C.  Volunteers and youth program participants must adhere to the occupational safety and health requirements in this chapter and other relevant DOI and USGS occupational safety and health policies.  

D.  Include safety information in agreements or memorandums of understanding between cooperating and partnering organizations and the USGS.  This information must include what each party is responsible for:

(1)  Administering and paying workers’ compensation and tort claims.

(2)  Providing safety training to meet the minimum safety standards in USGS policies.

(3)  Providing personal protective equipment for job tasks that require it. 

(4)  Requiring detailed JHA to be completed and reviewed to insure the tasks the minor will be expected to perform are in compliance with this chapter, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Human Capital requirements.

(5)  Disclosing the hazards identified in the JHA to the minor and their guardian.

6.  General.

A.  Acceptable Youth Tasks/Activities.

(1)  Volunteers and youth program participants may only participate in job tasks where they have completed the appropriate training and certification requirements specific to the hazards of the tasks involved.

(2)  Minors may perform field work only as part of a group or team consisting of two or more USGS employees who accompany them at all times.

B.  Unacceptable Youth Tasks/Activities.

(1)  Persons under 18 years of age may not operate any motor vehicle that weighs more than 6,000 pounds (2,700 kilograms), regardless of who owns or leases it.

(2)  Persons under 18 years of age may not operate private vehicles when performing official business.

(3)  Certain Activities Based on Age.  The Fair Labor Standards Act sets a minimum age for certain occupations determined to be particularly hazardous or detrimental to the health or well-being of minors.  The minimum age standards can be found in 29 CFR Part 570 – Child Labor Regulations, Orders and Statements of Interpretation.

(4)  In addition to applying child labor laws in the utilization of minors, the USGS prohibits assigning duties to minors that involve any of the following or similar types of activities that might potentially constitute a hazard:

(a)  Underwater Diving.

(b)  Use of chemicals classified with the signal word "Danger" or “Warning” on a Safety Data Sheet or Label in accordance with OSHA Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.  For a definition of the signal words see 52.4.C. of this chapter.

(i)  Minors may participate in supervised activities provided they use only chemicals classified as low hazard with no signal word, have supervisory approval, and are trained on and follow the occupational safety and health requirements of this chapter and other applicable DOI and USGS occupational safety and health policies and OSHA regulations.

(ii)  Minors may participate as observers in laboratory tours under fully supervised conditions. 
(c)  Activities that result in employee exposures requiring enrollment in a medical surveillance program as required by SM 445-2-H.23.

(d)  Exposure to radiation or biological hazards.

(e)  Riding in helicopters or unscheduled aircraft.

(f)  Driving Government-owned or leased motorized vehicles.

(g)  Operation of power-driven machinery or equipment; e.g., chain saws, power shop tools, rock crushers, drill rigs, specialized equipment or vehicles, etc.

(h)  Use of firearms, explosives, or incendiaries.

(i)  Traffic Control.

C.  Other Applicable Laws.

(1)  Federal laws that apply to our safety program for volunteers and youth program participants:

(a)  The Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) is a workers' compensation law administered by the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs in the U.S. Department of Labor.  FECA provides compensation benefits to civilian employees of the United States for disability due to personal injury sustained while working in the performance of duty or due to an employment-related disease.  FECA also provides for the payment of benefits to dependents if the injury or disease causes the employee's death.

(i)  Volunteers and participants in programs for hiring youth are considered employees for the purposes of FECA.  Supervisors, Project Leaders, and volunteers/youth program participants can get help filing injury compensation claims from the Workers’ Compensation Specialist. Supervisors must submit a Report of Accident/Incident for all work-related injuries in accordance with SM 445-2-H.7.

(ii)  Participants in youth organizations, youth partnerships, and collegiate partners are not considered employees for the purposes of FECA.

(b)  The Federal Tort Claims Act provides a way for persons to make claims against the U.S. Government for damage, loss, injury, or death caused by negligent or wrongful acts or omissions by any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of employment.

(i)  Volunteers and participants in programs for hiring youth are considered employees for the purposes of the Federal Tort Claims Act.

(ii)  Participants in youth organizations, youth partnerships, and collegiate partners are not considered employees for the purposes of the Federal Tort Claims Act.

7.  Responsibilities.  The responsibilities in SM 445-2-H.2 are applicable.  Additional youth specific responsibilities are listed below.

A.  Designated Agency Safety and Health Official.

(1)  Exercises the authority of the Director to develop, direct, and manage an effective Youth Safety Program within the USGS.

(2)  Assigns Youth Safety Program authority to the Chief, Office of Management Services (OMS) for program management and administration.

B.  Associate Directors and Regional Directors.  Ensure that managers and supervisors are accountable for ensuring compliance with youth safety policy requirements.

C.  Chief, Office of Management Services.  Assigns Youth Safety Program responsibilities to the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Program Manager.
D.  Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager.
(1)  Ensures the establishment, oversight, and assessment of the Youth Safety Program.

(2)  Advises and coordinates with regional safety and mission area staff to facilitate program implementation of youth safety policy, initiatives, publications, and related activities.

(3)  Assists as necessary in evaluating hazardous activities, recommending appropriate controls, and developing JHAs that allow the youth programs to function safely.

(4)  Recommends additional occupational safety and health training for youth participants, as appropriate.

(5)  Advises Human Capital and managers of proper job placement for minors by determining suitability based on safety requirements. 

(6)  Ensures that mission area volunteer and youth program supervisors are trained in the methods for preventing accidents and illnesses and the procedures for outdoor work activities and how to assess operations for the risks they pose.

E. Regional Safety Managers.  Have the same responsibilities for their regions as 52.7E(2)-(6) above.

F.  Science Center Directors.  Ensure the safety of youth program participants and compliance with the youth safety policy.

G.  Science Center Managers, Supervisors, and Project Leaders.

(1)  Ensure that volunteers complete OF 301A that includes a position description describing work duties, hazards, and required personal protective equipment.

(2)  Ensure the completion of a hazard assessment, preparation of an emergency/rescue plan, and conduct of a pre-work briefing with all participants.

(3)  Complete JHA for tasks requiring them.  (See SM 445-2-H.15, Job Hazard Analyses.)

(4)  Ensure volunteer and youth program participants receive appropriate required occupational safety and health training per SM 445-2-H.14, Training prior to conducting the task/activity.  Managers and supervisors are encouraged to use the following National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) web sites as additional training resources for volunteer workers: and  The training must include:

(a)  Safety and health program requirements and how to assess operations for the risks they pose.

(b)  Safe operating procedures.

(c)  Using personal protective equipment and required clothing and knowing its limitations.

(d)  The site safety plan and procedures to follow in an emergency including procedures to immediately stop activities that are of imminent danger to individuals.

(5)  Comply with applicable DOI and USGS occupational safety and health requirements.

(6)  Request support from the Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinator, the Regional Safety Manager, or the OSH Program Manager to address complex safety and occupational health hazards.

(7)  Document initial and refresher volunteer and youth program participant training completions in the DOI Learning Management System; i.e., DOI Learn.

(8)  Immediately stop activities that are of imminent danger to individuals.

H.  Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators.  Assist science center managers, supervisors, and project leaders in complying with Departmental and USGS occupational safety and health requirements.

I.  Youth Participants.

(1)  Immediately report the following to their supervisor or the project leader:

(a)  All unsafe or unhealthful conditions that they observe.  (See SM 445-2-H.8.)

(b)  Job-related accidents that result in, or have the potential to result in, harm to people, damage to property, or a potential tort claim.

(c)  Any personal conditions that could adversely affect their ability to perform their jobs in a safe and healthful manner.

(2)  Complete required occupational safety and health training before conducting job tasks.

(3)  Wear USGS-provided personal protective equipment, when required.

(4)  Maintain a high degree of safety awareness to perform work without accident or injury.

/s/ Jose R. Aragon                                                                              August 5, 2015
Jose R. Aragon                                                                                               Date

Associate Director for Administration
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