Handbook of Operating Procedures

Minors in the Workplace

Policy Number: 164


Minors participating in a study project, visiting the university, or working at the university



Date Reviewed:
October 2013
Responsible Office:
Office of Safety, Health, Environment & Risk Management; Human Resources
Responsible Executive:
Vice President of Safety, Health, Environment & Risk Management; Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer


Minors may not participate in a study project with, a visit to, or employment by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) without the prior approval of the Office of Safety, Health, Environment & Risk Management (“SHERM”). Individuals who fail to follow this policy may be personally liable for any injuries to a minor.

For the purposes of this policy, a minor is defined as an individual under the age of 18 years. For a minor to be selected as a volunteer, the volunteer opportunity must be approved and processed in accordance with HOOP Policy 159 Volunteers in addition to conforming with this policy. For a minor to be selected as an observer, in addition to conforming with this policy, the observer opportunity must be approved and processed in accordance with HOOP Policy 125 Visitors and the guidelines on the Observers, Trainees, and Visiting Scientists website, which require visitors to be at least 16 years of age.

Supervisors who oversee work areas or laboratories are responsible for the safety of all minors who are approved under university guidelines to be in their areas and for compliance with this policy. Under no circumstances will minors be allowed to work or study with or around radiation sources, biological agents, hazardous chemicals, power-driven equipment, high voltage equipment, or animals in manners that pose a detrimental risk to their health or well-being.  Minors will be required to attend laboratory safety training from Environmental Health & Safety prior to entering a laboratory.  Minors who do not meet any of the official designations noted above are specifically prohibited from visiting laboratories, process areas, or any other area with potential exposure to hazards. This prohibition includes minor children of faculty, staff, students and trainees who do not meet any of the official designations noted above.

Minors under 18 years of age may not be hired to perform particularly hazardous activities such as driving motor vehicles or operating power-driven machinery. Minors under 16 years of age, including temporary employees, are not allowed to work in laboratories or process areas where exposure to radioactive materials, radiation-generating equipment, hazardous or toxic materials may occur. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure that all minors are closely supervised while in a laboratory or process area and that any sources of hazard are stored in a safe manner prior to entry. Individuals responsible for minors employed by the university (either on a regular or temporary basis) must obtain authorization from SHERM before confirmation of the minor’s effective date of hire.

This policy establishes a mechanism for the protection of minors at the university for educational, research, or employment purposes only. It is not intended to provide coverage for, nor is it an endorsement of, minors being at the workplace due to such situations as school vacations, illness, or holidays. The university strongly discourages the presence of minors who are not involved in university activities and cannot be responsible for their safety. Department heads are responsible for assuring that any minors within their assigned space are on campus in conjunction with university activities.

For information regarding applicable child labor laws, contact Human Resources.


A. Study, Visit, Observe, or Volunteer Purpose

Before minors may, study, visit, observe, or volunteer in the university:

  • The project or visit organizer should work with the administrator of the unit or department where the proposed study, visit, observation, or volunteer opportunity is to take place to obtain and complete the first section of a Clearance Request for Minors in the Workplace Study or Employment form. (Individuals who might request this form are the supervisor of the laboratory area where a tour or project is planned, the directing teacher for a university cooperative project with an area school, or a minor who wishes to work or study at the university.) After the first section has been completed, the minor and his or her parent or legal guardian should review and sign the form. Note: in the case of a group project or visit, the project or visit organizer may wish to have the top section of the form completed before photocopying it for distribution to all minors participating in the project. The form should then be returned to the supervisor of the designated project area for review.
  • At least four weeks before the proposed start of study or work or the proposed visit, the supervisor of the designated project or visit area must submit to SHERM the completed form signed and dated by the minor, his or her parent or legal guardian, the requestor, and the supervisor of the designated project area.
  • SHERM will review the information and the proposed work or visit areas for any health and safety concerns. SHERM will indicate approval/disapproval on the form. SHERM may state on this form any concerns it has regarding the project. In some instances, special training may be warranted for the minor and will be arranged by SHERM. The supervisor of the designated project area must address any noted concerns, must retain these completed forms on file in accordance with the applicable Records Retention Schedule, and must ensure that only individuals who have approved forms are participants in the project.

Study projects that are to be undertaken at the university by students who are minors must be reviewed and authorized in advance by SHERM if exposure to ionizing radiation, biological hazards in laboratories designated as Biosafety Levels 2, 3 or 4, acutely toxic chemicals, chemical carcinogens, pathogenic agents of childhood disease, toxic materials, power-driven equipment, high voltage equipment or other hazardous substances is involved.  Laboratory safety training is required via Environmental Health & Safety prior to the minor entering the laboratory.

B. Employment Purpose

Departments must submit to SHERM a completed Clearance Request for Minors in the Workplace Study or Employment form, signed and dated by the minor's parent or legal guardian and the supervisor before confirmation of the effective date of hire. The department must ensure that the minor receives a copy of the completed form.

Once a request has been approved or disapproved by SHERM, it will be sent to Human Resources Employment Services and to the supervisor who wishes to hire the minor. Proof of age may be ascertained from the documents listed on the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.  Supervisors should contact Human Resources Employment Services to coordinate the minor’s employment in accordance with HOOP Policy 14 Employment Eligibility.


ContactTelephoneEmail/Web Address
Safety, Health, Environment & Risk Management (questions regarding the safety of minors) 713-500-8100 https://www.uth.edu/safety/sherm/ehs-staff.htm
Human Resources (questions regarding employment of minors) 713-500-3130 https://www.uth.edu/hr/contact.htm