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New GAO Report Raises Concern over the Health and Safety of Child Farmworkers in the United States

 For immediate release: December 6, 2018

Contact: Reid Maki, Child Labor Coalition, (202) 207-2820, reidm@nclnet.org 

 

Washington, DC–In the wake of a new child labor report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Child Labor Coalition (CLC) joins Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in voicing concern for the health and safety of 2.5 million U.S. children who work for wages, particularly those who toil in sectors like agriculture with elevated injury and fatality rates.

“The scourge of child labor still haunts America,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League and a co-chair of the CLC.

The new report “Working Children: Federal Injury Data and Compliance Strategies Could Be Strengthened” (November 2018) updates a 2002 GAO report on child labor in the United States. Earlier this week, the GAO issued the updated report, which had been requested by Reps. Roybal-Allard and DeLauro last year. Despite the difference of 16 years, the two reports reached similar conclusions, calling for better data. The new report also called for better coordination between the Wage and Hour Division and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—both entities at the Department of Labor—to enforce child labor laws.

The GAO found that while fewer than 5.5 percent of working children in the United States toiled on farms, the agricultural sector accounted for more than 50 percent of child labor fatalities. In the years 2003 to 2016, 237 children died in farm-related work accidents, representing four times the number of deaths of any other sector (construction and mining had 59 over the 14 year period).

“The GAO report’s findings are damning,” said Roybal-Allard and Rep. DeLauro in a joint statement. “This report confirms that child labor is contributing to a devastating amount of fatalities in the United States—disproportionately so in the agricultural sector. In that industry, kids are often exposes exposed to dangerous pesticides, heavy machinery, and extreme heat, and they are being killed as a result. That is unacceptable.”

The study examined recent data on children at work as well as child work fatalities and injuries and found significant data gaps and misaligned data. A data survey pilot project that sought improved data on workers ignored children entirely; it excluded “household children and working children on farms employing 10 or fewer workers,” noted the report’s authors, who concluded “DOL is missing opportunities to more accurately quantify injuries and illnesses to children, which could better inform its compliance and enforcement efforts.”

“The updated GAO report supports what child advocates have been seeing on the ground: the number of working children in the US has been on the rise since 2011, while child labor continues to decrease around the world,” says Norma Flores Lopez, chair of the CLC’s Domestic Issues Committee. “American working children are inadequately protected while working in dangerous—sometimes fatal—industries, including agriculture.  The U.S. Department of Labor must take immediate action to better protect our children by implementing the report’s recommendations. By providing equal protections for all working children, the US DOL can improve its effectiveness in enforcing child labor laws and keep children safe.”

“The Child Labor Coalition has worked for nearly 30 years to safeguard child workers on farms,” said Reid Maki, director of child labor advocacy for NCL and coordinator of the CLC.  “The United States has had glaringly weak agricultural child labor laws since the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act in the late 1930s. We allow children as young as 12 to work unlimited hours in agriculture, despite its known dangers.”

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Poquoson Company Pleads Guilty in Wood Chipper Fatality

Associated Press

POQUOSON (AP) — A landscaping company has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor safety violation stemming from a wood chipper accident that killed a 14-year-old worker.

The Daily Press reports that Old Tree Dominion and Lawn Care owner Robert Lee Strickland Jr. entered the plea Thursday on behalf of his company.

Assistant York-Poquoson Commonwealth’s Attorney Patricia A. Dart says a felony child endangerment charge against Strickland was dropped.

Strickland was the guardian of the victim, Frank Anthony Gornick, who was killed in November 2010. Authorities say the teen was using a shovel to drop debris into a wood chipper’s hopper when he was pulled into the machine.

Dart says the company was fined $35,000 with all but $1,000 suspended for five years.

Information from: Daily Press, http://www.dailypress.com

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)… Read the rest

NCL’s 2010 Five Worst Jobs for Teens

[This report was originally issued in Spring 2010]

National Consumers League Report:

2010’s Five Worst Teen Jobs

  1. Traveling Youth Sales Crews
  2. Construction and Height Work
  3. Outside Helper: Landscaping, Groundskeeping and Lawn Service
  4. Agriculture: Harvesting Crops
  5. Driver/Operator: Forklifts, Tractors, and ATV’s

[The five worst jobs for teens are not ranked in order]

It’s that time of the year. Teenagers are starting to think about their summer jobs. Where will they work? What kind of work will they do? What will it pay?

In 2008, approximately 2.3 million adolescents aged 15 to 17 years worked in the U.S. Unfortunately, the global recession has impacted teen hiring here in the U.S. and jobs are particularly hard to come by for teens these days. According to the New York Times in April 2010, the U.S. economy lost 8.2 million jobs in the previous two years and the teen unemployment rate had risen 26 percent, compared to 9.7 percent for the nation at large. Increasingly, teens are competing with more experienced adults for jobs. The National Consumer League (NCL) worries that the difficulty in finding jobs will lead teens to take jobs that are too dangerous for them.

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Teen Dies in Ohio Farm Accident

[from the DaytonDailyNews.com]

By Steve Bennish, Staff Writer
Updated 7:37 AM Thursday, December 30, 2010

ARCANUM — A 16-year-old who was killed in a farm machinery accident on Wednesday has been identified as John Warner of Arcanum, according to the Darke County Sheriff’s office.

The accident, which involved a manure spreader being used on a frozen corn field, occurred about 2:30 p.m. on property at 7664 Delisle-Fourman Road, the sheriff’s office said.

A preliminary investigation suggests that Warner’s outer clothing became entangled in the power take-off shaft of a farm implement.

Warner was pronounced dead at the scene. He was a student at Franklin Monroe High School.

The incident is still under investigation.

Family and friends of Warner gathered at the site Wednesday afternoon. Emergency crews from the Arcanum Fire Department, Arcanum Community Rescue, as well as Darke County Sheriff’s deputies, responded to the accident. A spokesperson for the family declined comment.

Staff Writer Kelli Wynn contributed to this report.

Find this article at:

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/dayton-news/teen-who-died-in-darke-county-farm-accident-identified-1040954.html… Read the rest