Skip to Content

Environmental Health and Safety


Volunteers and Minors

Minors often seek and acquire opportunities to study or work at the University of South Carolina (USC) and gain valuable knowledge and experience. The University recognizes both the importance of the educational and outreach missions of the university, and also the need to ensure a safe environment for all faculty, staff, students and visitors. The USC policy on Minors in Laboratories [pdf]  is one of multiple University policies involving minors who seek volunteer work in USC laboratories.

Who is a minor?

A minor is defined as a person under the age of eighteen (18) who is not enrolled or accepted for enrollment at the University. The USC policy on Minors in Laboratories [pdf] policy pertains to the presence of minors in all University-based research or teaching laboratory settings or other work areas where potentially hazardous materials or conditions exist.

What is a laboratory?

For the purposes of this policy, “laboratory” refers to any part of a building used or intended to be used for scientific or technical activities where hazardous materials are used and/or stored (e.g. biological, chemical or radiation hazards); this includes teaching laboratories as well as research laboratories.

Who (minor) is and is NOT allowed in USC laboratories?

  1. Children under 12 years of age are prohibited from entering laboratory areas under all circumstances.
  2. No individual between the ages of 12 and 16 may enter a laboratory, unless they are part of a one-time tour that was approved by the individual faculty member and the Department Chair. Tours may only be conducted at times when all hazardous materials are properly stored and not being used for experiments. The faculty member will be responsible for proper supervision and for providing any appropriate personal protective equipment for the visitors. Tours must be supervised at all times while a minor is on the premises, and tour participants may not participate in any laboratory activities.
  3. No individual between the ages of 16 and 18 may enter a laboratory or other work area with potentially hazardous materials or conditions unless the minor is:
    • Part of a group or individual educational program reviewed in advance by the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), Risk Management Office, and the Department Chair, or
    • Part of a relationship in which a faculty member or researcher is acting as a mentor to the minor, the minor will not be present in the laboratory for more than three months, and all activities performed by the minor have been approved by all applicable University departments, divisions and/or representatives. Applications proposing that a minor be present in the lab for longer than three months will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by designated University representatives, and may be denied or subject to additional requirements.
  4. Volunteers who are 18 years old or older need to complete and sign the Volunteer Participation Agreement and Acknowledgement of Risks [pdf] portion of the application form only.

What do I need to do to host a minor in my laboratory?

If you are a Principal Investigator and plan to host a minor who will participate in any activity in your laboratory, please complete the application [pdf], submit to your DEpartment Chair for approval, then submit to jlocke@mailbox.sc.edu. EH&S will review the application and confirm if the proposed plan of activities conforms with the policy.

After EH&S review is completed and finds that volunteer work conforms with the policy, is the minor applicant approved to work in my laboratory?

EHS does not authorize final approval for minors in laboratories. EHS reviews proposed lab activities involving minors and issues recommendations, requirements or restrictions based on laboratory safety guidelines and University policy. Additional approval considerations may include, but not be limited to, the following policies and guidelines:

a) University of South Carolina Policy (UNIV 4.00) on Programs Involving Minors

b) University Guidelines for Designing and Operating Programs Involving Minors

c) Human Resources Background and Employment Verification Check (policy HR 1.90)

d) School of Medicine Basic Sciences: Research Experiences for Minors (REM) Committee

e) Other applicable requirements based on University policies issued by Law Enforcement, Risk Management, General Counsel, Continuing Education and Conferences, or Human Resources.

f) Other policies, procedures or applications required by the Department sponsoring the minor(s).