The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday broadened the scope of the ban on the employment of minors in agriculture and livestock farming to prevent young people from exposure to hazardous work conditions.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III issued Department Order No. 149-A that now classified other work and related farming activities as hazardous and among the worst forms of child labor. They include plant propagation activities that involve grafting, budding and marcotting, and tending activities that involve weeding of soil.

The new order also reinforced the existing ban on the employment of minors in farm activities as clearing of land, plowing, harrowing, irrigating, constructing paddy dike and cutting. Also declared as hazardous are handling, spraying and application of harmful fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other toxic chemicals; and loading and carrying of heavy loads.

Minors are also not allowed in harvesting activities that involve cutting and picking, spreading for drying, hauling, topping, tumbling, tuxying, stripping, burning of field, sticking and classifying, threshing, loading and carting of produce.

In post-harvest, minors may not be employed in de-husking, scooping, sacking of products, charcoal making, hauling of products as led by animal guide, loading and unloading of packed farm products, coconut kilning and de-meating from shell or core, sealing and carting of produce for warehousing and transport to market and all ancillary work such as clearing, cleaning, and recycling of farm waste in its preparation as animal food and other related processes.

In livestock farming, the work and related activities that are declared hazardous to minors include: rearing such as collecting, loading, unloading and transporting of feeds, maintenance and care of large and/or dangerous animals, collecting and disposal of dead animals, animal manure and other waste materials, administering of vaccines and vitamins, and handling of disinfectants used for cleaning animal pens/enclosures or for disinfecting animals.

Also not allowed are harvesting activities that involve catching or collecting, ranching, and milking in preparation for warehousing or transport to market, and post-harvest activities including the packaging and processing of dairy and other animal by-products in preparation for warehousing and transport to market; and working in slaughterhouses or abattoirs.

“Child workers are compelled to help augment their families’ meager income by engaging in hazardous work. That is why the labor department will strictly monitor and assess occupational safety and health standards related to child labor,” Bello said.

In so doing, he said the best interest of children is the paramount consideration to ensure that their employment does not endanger their life, safety, health and morals, nor impair their normal development.

END/Abegail De Vega

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