Is it Legal to Employ a Minor
as a Chiropractic X-Ray Technician?

Yes. It is legal to employ a minor as a chiropractic x-ray technician, because this employment is not considered "hazardous." Be careful, however, to take all of the comments below into consideration.

Unrelated to the x-ray issue, it is recommended that chiropractic x-ray operators be at least 18 years of age so that they are more likely to have attained sufficient life experience and maturity to present a necessary aura of professionalism, a sense of authority, and skills in patient management and ability to respond to patient questions and concerns. Nevertheless, it is legal to employ a minor, assuming that the following requirements are met.

General rules for employing a minor (unrelated to x-ray), of course, always apply, as follows:

  1. Minor Work Permit
  2. The first requirement for the employment of any person under the age of 18 — for any type of job — is to obtain a Minor Work Permit. This is accomplished by making a request for such a permit to L&I via telephone, or in person at the nearest local L&I service location. The form is actually a request for an endorsement to the business' Master Business License. The application must be completed, a small fee submitted, and the application sent to the Department of Licensing. After processing, the Department of Licensing sends the Minor Work Permit to the business.

  3. Prohibited and Hazardous Activities
  4. Both state and federal laws prohibit the employment of minors in occupations which could be considered hazardous.

    1. Federal Law (Fair Labor Standards Act, Title 29, Part 570, Subparts C&E, as printed in Child Labor Bulletin #101)
    2. No one under 18 may be employed for a job which might result in his being exposed to ionizing radiation in excess of 0.5 rem per year. (Rem is the measuring unit for exposure to ionizing radiation other than x-ray. It has an equivalent biologic effect to a rad, which is the measuring unit used for x-ray. When all kinds of ionizing radiation are being considered as a group, the term rem is used; thus, rem and rad may be used interchangeably in this situation.)

    3. State Law ("Non-Agricultural Employment of Minors" WAC 296-125)
    4. No one under 18 may be employed for a job "involving potential exposure to radioactive substances and to ionizing radiation." WAC 296-125-030 (6).

      No one under 18 may be employed for a job requiring "the wearing of personal protective equipment or wearing apparel" against hazardous substances WAC 296-125-030 (22).

      In the case of a chiropractic x-ray operator, there is NO measurable exposure to x-ray because the operator always stands behind the lead operator's booth when the exposures are made. In addition to the primary x-ray beam that exposes the patient being x-rayed (produces the actual x-ray image), there is also very weak scatter radiation throughout the x-ray room; however, this is only during the instant of the x-ray exposure, and the lead operator's booth is designed to stop scatter before it reaches the operator. There is no radiation anywhere around the x-ray equipment or room between x-ray exposures. A plain film diagnostic x-ray exposure (such as encountered in a chiropractic office) is an electrical reaction that is turned on and off like a light. There are no radioactive materials emitting any radiation.

      The operator is forced by equipment and site plan design to stand behind a lead protective wall when the exposure is being made, thus protecting the operator from all radiation, including this weak scatter radiation. By law, there is no physical way in which the operator can reach the exposure switch without standing behind the lead barrier. No one else aside from the patient would typically be in the x-ray room when the exposure was made. If an assistant is required for any reason, it is standard and required procedure for both the x-ray operator and the assistant to step behind the operator's barrier shield when the x-ray exposure is made.

      State law requires the wearing of personnel dosimetry badges if the operator could be exposed to 1/10 of the maximal permissible dose for occupationally-exposed adults, which is 5 rem per year. Chiropractic x-ray operators of all ages are exempted from this requirement because they are expected to receive NO measurable exposure.

      Thus, meeting the requirements of both state and federal laws is easily guaranteed.

  5. All non-doctor x-ray operators in chiropractic offices must possess a valid x-ray technician's registration obtained from the Washington State Chiropractic Quality Assurance Commission (CQAC).
  6. WAC 246-806-190 requires non-doctor x-ray operators in chiropractic offices to attend prescribed classroom instruction in radiographic technique, pass a written examination, complete requisite instruction on the subject of HIV/AIDS, and apply to the Commission for an annually-renewable registration certificate.


Sources for the above information include the following:

  1. Instructional seminars
  2. Various radiographic technique instruction seminars will admit minors. If the minor can absorb the necessary material and pass the written examination, a passing certificate will be issued.

  3. Washington State Chiropractic Quality Assurance Commission
  4. The Commission, which is responsible for issuing the required permit, will issue such a permit if the necessary requirements are met. There is nothing in the WAC to prohibit a minor from obtaining a permit.

  5. L&I
  6. A child labor specialist at the Department of Labor and Industries has indicated that if state and federal laws are followed, there is no prohibition to a minor being an x-ray operator in a chiropractic office, if the above guarantees were met that there would be no x-ray exposure to the operator.

  7. X-Ray Control/Protection, Department of Health
  8. Department of Health, X-Ray Control Section personnel concur with the above assessment that in a chiropractic office setting there would be no measurable x-ray exposure to the operator. All x-ray facilities are inspected by this department's inspectors. An inspector would accept a permit-holding minor as an x-ray operator, and would not interpret the situation as "hazardous," if all of the above requirements were met.