In 2008, approximately 2.3 million adolescents aged 15 to 17 years worked in the U.S. In terms of raw numbers, retail establishments, restaurants, and grocery stores are three of the largest employers of teen workers. Modest numbers of American youth have been found working illegally in dangerous industries like meat processing, and U.S. law allows minors working in agriculture to perform tasks known to be hazardous. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to accidents at work. In 2008, 34 workers under 18 died in the workplace.

What has happened to nurturing and protecting children?

The Child Labor Coalition is a non-partisan group that is concerned with the health and welfare of children in the U.S. and abroad. We were extremely critical of the Obama administration’s decision to withdraw proposed safety protections for children who work in agriculture—-known as “hazardous occupations orders.”

We try to call it as we see it and ignore politics. We love any politician who puts children first. But today, we are stunned by the numerous attacks on children by the Trump administration and left wondering what horror is next? 

Earlier this month, Customs and Border Patrol announced that it would stop education classes, legal aid, and even recreational activities for children at the border detention facilities housing immigrant children. Detained children have already been traumatized by their arduous journey to the U.S., their subsequent detention, and, in many cases, forced family separation. What Grinch would deny them schooling and playtime?

Reid Maki, Director of Child Labor Advocacy, National Consumers League and Coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition.

Institutionalization and family separation constitute traumatic experiences that threaten the physical and mental health of children. The N.Y. Times reported on February 27th that the federal government had received more than 4,500 complaints of sexual abuse of children in immigration facilities over four years, including an increase since the Trump administration began separating families. Shouldn’t we focus our energies on reuniting families and easing the psychological damage that has already been done—not penalizing children even further?

The decision to withhold education and recreation was just the latest salvo in what increasingly seems like a war against children by the Trump administration. We recently learned that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had decided to defund children’s health research centers around the U.S. For decades, the centers have brought together researchers and children’s health experts to reduce environmental health risks that children face.

The research centers helped expose the danger of the pesticide chlorpyrifos which damages the development of children’s brains and poses grave health risks to child farmworkers, adult farmworkers, and farmers. EPA had decided to ban the toxic pesticide under the Obama administration, but then reversed the ban under the Trump presidency.

The Trump administration also attempted to reverse an Obama administration ban on children applying pesticides as part of their job on farms. Does our agricultural economy need children to apply pesticides? No. Fortunately, after several months of pursuing the idea, the Trump administration seems to have given up—only to move on to the latest perverse idea.

Recently, the EPA and the Office of Management and Budget officials announced plans to change regulations concerning “agricultural exclusion zones” (AEZs). Under current rules, if a plane or aerator sprays pesticides on a field it must be at least 100 feet from workers in the fields; other applicators must be at least 25 feet from workers. Although not spelled out, everyone is assuming the changes will weaken or eliminate the AEZs–because the Trump administration never acts to increase protections for vulnerable populations.

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How many child workers die in the work place in the US each year?

In 2015 and 2016 we averaged 27 teen work deaths a year compared to 72.5 deaths in 1999 and 2000.

Data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries by year:

2016 = 30   (report)

2015 = 24   (report)

2014 = 22   (report)

2013 = 13   (report)

2012 = 29   (report)

2011 = 23    (report)

2010 = 34    (report)

2009 = 27   (report)

2008 = 34   (report)

2007 = 38   (report)

2006 = 33   (report)

2005 = 54   (report)

2004 = 38   (report)

2003 = 53   (report)

2002 = 41   (report)

2001 = 53   (report)

2000 = 73    (report)

1999 = 72    (report)

1998 = 65   (report)

1997 = 62   (report)

1996 = 70   (report)

1995 = 68   (report)

1994 = 67   (report)

1993 = 68   (report)

1992 = 68   (report)

 

You can also access archived data here.

 

 … Read the rest

A Toxic Decision — How Protecting Child Farmworkers May Be Pushed Aside by the EPA

By Len Morris

America’s fields, orchards and farms are toxic places for children; and things could get much worse thanks to recent actions by the Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency led by Administrator Scott Pruitt, an ideologue willing to put business interests ahead of the health and welfare of migrant families and U.S. citizen children that the EPA. is responsible for protecting.

Over 2 million farm workers work in American agriculture, an estimated half a million of these are children. Their work puts them in daily direct contact with hazardous pesticides that can sicken them, lower their IQ, make them chronically ill or even lead to death. 

Two regulations to protect children from pesticide poisoning, illness and death, The Agriculture Worker Protection Standard of 2015 and The Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule currently of 2017 make it illegal for children under 18 to handle these chemicals, especially those considered most toxic and lethal. These are the protections Pruitt has proposed revising/eliminating.

For children on farms, pesticide exposure is particularly hazardous. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said there is a clear link between childhood exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive functions and behavioral problems. Young children are especially vulnerable as they metabolize poisons faster than adults. 

An estimated 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops each year in the U.S.  The Environmental Protection Agency has reported 20,000 cases of pesticide poisoning, a low estimate since reporting is spare and migrant families are often afraid to seek medical attention. … Read the rest

NCL’s 2016 Five Most Dangerous Jobs For Teens

The National Consumers League’s annual guide to help working teens stay safe in the workplace

An 18-year-old worker was killed when a silo collapsed at this construction site in 2015.

An 18-year-old worker was killed when a silo collapsed at this construction site in Virginia in 2015.

Report author: Reid Maki, Director of Child Labor Advocacy,

National Consumers League  [This update issued June 2016. “The Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens” report is updated annually.]


Section Index

  1. Introduction: Teens continue to get killed and hurt at work
  2. What are the Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens?
  3. Job one: Tobacco harvester
  4. Job two: Agriculture: Other types of farm workharvesting crops and using machinery
  5. Job three: Outside helper, landscaping, tree-trimming, groundskeeping, and lawn service
  6. Job four: Construction and height work
  7. Job five: Traveling sales crews
  8. How are teen workers dying and getting injured at work?
  9. Other work hazards to be aware of

10. Tips for staying safe at work

11. Recommendations to protect teens at work

12. Conclusion

  1. Introduction: Teens continue to get killed and hurt at work

Nearly 5,000 workers die on the job each year—each day, an average of 13 workers are killed on the job—some of those workers are teenagers. Each of those deaths are torture for the friends and family of the child worker.

Thousands of children are hurt on the job each year. Many parents don’t think about their children getting hurt at work, but according to the Children’s Safety network, about every 9 minutes, a U.S. teen is hurt on the job.

In a typical year, 20-30 children die on the job in the U.S. Twenty years ago, that number was over 70 per year. In 2012, 29 children died while working. In 2013, that number fell sharply to 14, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The National Consumers League (NCL) was curious—and hopeful—to see if that drastic drop in fatalities would continue, but sadly, it did not.

According to the BLS data for 2014, the most recent data that is available, 21 young workers under the age of 18 died in the U.S.—a 50 percent increase over the prior year. Although alarming, the 50 percent increase in the number of teen deaths between 2013 and 2014 would seem to represent a reversion to recent average fatality totals and the 2013 drop would seem to be an aberration. The increase bears watching however to ensure that the number does not continue to climb.

201512_crd_us_tobacco_photo_2

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