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NCL’s Five Most Dangerous Jobs 2012 Report Helps Teens Stay Safe at Work

It’s that time of year again in the United States: teens are pounding the pavement looking for summer work. Having a job can be an important part of youth development, but the worst work – the ones on this year’s Five Most Dangerous Teen Jobs – should be avoided in some cases or accepted with caution in others.

Jobs for teens are an important part of youth development, providing both needed income and teaching valuable work skills. According to research, teen jobs increase future earnings and also decrease the likelihood the working teen will drop out.

Since 2000 the percentage of working teens has fallen 40 percent—in part because the federal government has cut back on funding for youth programs and in part because of the global economic recession. Job competition may lead working teens who are desperate for work to seek jobs that are unsafe for them.

The National Consumers League (NCL) provides its annual update of its Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens to help teenagers and their parents make safer job choices and to increase awareness of job dangers they may encounter.

NCL is also concerned that some states a few states weakened child protections in 2011, and the federal government withdrew proposed rules that would have made work for teens in agriculture much safer.

Each day in America, 12 to 13 workers of all ages die and some of the victims are youth workers. In 2010, 34 workers under 18 died in the workplace—nearly half of those workers (16) were under 16 years old. In the 18 to 19 age group, another 56 workers died.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that each year about 146,000 youth sustain work-related injuries. That translates to 400 young workers injured on the job every day.

NCL’s Five Most Dangerous Jobs for Teens in 2012: (full report appears at the end of this article)

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More than 150 Groups Urged U.S. to Implement Child Safety Rules for Agriculture But U.S. DOL Succumbs to Political Pressure from Farm Lobby and Withdraws Proposed Protections

[The CLC submitted the following letter to Secretary Solis, urging her to implement the first update of occupational child safety rules for agriculture in four decades. The letter was originally submitted in March with 105 signatories. This update had 156 organizational endorsements. Unfortunately, the Department of Labor withdrew the proposed rules in late April under strong pressure from the Farm Lobby .]

April 19, 2012

The Honorable Hilda L. Solis
Secretary
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210

RE: Updates to the Agricultural Hazardous Occupations Orders as Proposed by the Department of Labor

Dear Secretary Solis:

The Child Labor Coalition represents millions of Americans, including teachers, workers, farmworkers, farmworker advocates, and human rights activists concerned about the safety, education, and welfare of children who work in agriculture. We understand the needs of our nation’s farmworker families and have seen the effects of agricultural work, especially on children. The Coalition, along with the organizations listed below, support the proposed changes to the agricultural hazardous orders and implore the Department to implement the changes as quickly as possible.

As many as 500,000 children and teenagers toil in agriculture, an industry consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous industries in America. Last year, 12 of the 16 children under age 16 who suffered fatal occupational injuries worked in crop production, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Just this past August, Oklahoma teens Tyler Zander and Bryce Gannon, both 17, each lost a leg in a grain auger accident. We can prevent these tragedies from happening to other children by implementing the proposed updates to the hazardous orders without delay. The rules won’t impair the rural way of life; they simply put the safety and well-being of children above corporate profit.

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Tighter Child-Labor Rules on Farms Proposed


By SCOTT KILMAN [from The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 32, 2011]

The U.S. Labor Department proposed Wednesday to increase for the first time in four decades its list of jobs too hazardous for hired hands age 15 and younger to do on the farm, long one of the most dangerous places in America for children to work.

Under the proposed changes, laborers who are hired to do such things as drive most tractors or work in tobacco fields would have to be at least 16 years old. Workers who toil in tobacco fields can be exposed to unsafe levels of nicotine, a problem called green-tobacco sickness.

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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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