Skid steer Operation by Youth Employees

Questions continue to be asked regarding youth employees and student learners operating skid steers. Here’s the basic as the laws apply. Employers are encouraged to contact the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) with more specific questions. Operation of skid steers is not covered by the Wisconsin Safe Operation of Tractor and Machinery Certification Program.

  1. Regulations being discussed do not apply to youth operating skid steers on farms owned or operated by their own parents or guardians.
  2. Youth under 16 years of age are prohibited from operating skid steers for employment purposes on farm or farm purposes based on Fair Labor Standards Act and § DWD 270.13(6) .
  3. Youth 16 and 17 years of age may be employed to operate skid steers for employment purposes on farms or farm purposes.
  4. Operating skid steers by minors for other industries, such as landscaping, construction, manufacturing, purposes  follow the enforcement position for § DWD 270.12(12) prohibition against the use of “hoists and hoisting apparatuses.”  Minors may not use skid steers in these employment situation. This includes as student learners or high school graduates.

Related Regulations

These are a few of the employer responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (for a complete listing of employer responsibilities or the OSH Act see

  • Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and comply with standards, rules and regulations issued under the OSH Act.
  • Examine workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable OSHA standards.
  • Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment.
  • Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.
  • Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.
  • Employers must provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.
  • Employers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace must develop and implement a written hazards.

It is well document that youth workers have a higher incident of workplace injuries. Training employees is required by law and extra valuable for youth employees learning new skills and work hazards. In some situations these youth workers will be student learners as part of a recognized agricultural education program.  While there isn’t a required skid steer certification program, an employee training program is required when a farm employees 1 or more workers. (NOTE: The agricultural appropriation rider restricts OSHA’s ability to use funds to inspect businesses with 11 or more employees but OSH Act applies with 1 employee).

UW Extension has developed a Skid Steer Training Module as part of a Dairy Worker Series. This training module has been used to help farms train workers. It provides general operation and skills for safe operation of skid steers. Employers still need to provide training on their specific skid steer and safe use in their workplace.