Accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 19. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to accidents at work. A 2006 survey found that 1 in 13 youth had been injured on the job. In 2008, 34 workers under 18 died in the workplace.

The Child Labor Coalition’s letter to Wisconsin Gov. Evers, Urging Him to Veto Legislation that Would Weaken Existing Child Labor Laws

January 21, 2022

 

Dear Governor Evers:

 

The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) based in Washington, D.C., represents 38 groups who work to reduce child labor and the dangers of child work in the U.S. and abroad. We write with concern about legislation, SB 332, which just passed the Wisconsin Assembly yesterday. The legislation would weaken current Wisconsin child labor protections by lengthening the hours 14- and 15-year-old workers would be allowed to work—both on schools days and on non-school days.

The CLC fears that lengthening the hours of work will increase student fatigue and increase the likelihood of students dropping out.  Extending school hours makes it harder for kids to perform school work, participate in after-school activities, do homework, and get a good night’s sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than one quarter of high school students fall asleep in class now.

Driving to and from the job is one of the most common ways teen workers are injured or killed. Even if teen workers are being driven by older drivers, fellow co-workers, or parents after 11:00, their chances of dying in a car accident escalate with late hours of work. Drunk driving fatal accidents are four time more likely at night—the later the hour, the more likely the accident is to involve a drunk driver.

Currently, Wisconsin follows federal law and allows children to work from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm when school is in session (on days preceding school) and 7:00 am to 9:00 pm when school is out of session. The proposed new law would allow minors to work until 9:30 on school nights and to begin work at 6:00 am, lengthening the work day for teen workers by 3 hours and 30 minutes.  On non-school nights, the new law would allow minor workers to work between 6:00 am and 11:00 pm.

According to Business Insider, “The bill would keep in place federal rules limiting teens to three hours of work on a school day, eight hours on non-school days, and six days of work a week.”

Each year, 158,000 teens suffer work-related injuries—70,000 are hurt badly enough to have to go to the hospital. By increasing worker fatigue, we increase the likelihood of injury. Rahm Emanuel, the former mayor of Chicago and a former member of Congress, is a victim of a teen accident. While working in an Arby’s he suffered a cut from a meat slicer. The cut led to a severe infection and gangrene and part of the finger had to be amputated.

In 2006, health researchers Kristina M. Zierold, Ph.D., assistant professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and Henry A. Anderson, M.D., chief medical officer of the Wisconsin Division of Public Health surveyed teen workers in North Carolina and found significant health risks associated with work by minors—and night work presented additional dangers. “Based on our analysis, we surmise that working later hours may involve circumstances that place teens at greater risk for severe occupational injury,” Zierold explained. Late at night, when managers have gone home, “teens may be asked to perform more prohibited or hazardous tasks than when supervisors are present.”

Read more

Keeping Teens Safe at Work — Tips for Parents, Employers, and Teens”

Tips for parents, employers, and teens:

While work plays an important role in the development of teenagers, teens and parents should carefully think about prospective jobs that teens are considering and assess possible workplace dangers that those jobs might possess.

Tips for teen workers

NCL urges teens to say “no” to jobs that involve:

  • Door-to-door sales, especially out of the youth’s neighborhood;
  • Long-distance traveling away from parental supervision;
  • Extensive driving or being driven;
  • Driving forklifts, tractors, and other potentially dangerous vehicles;
  • The use of dangerous machinery;
  • The use of chemicals;
  • Working in grain storage facilities; and
  • Work on ladders or work that involves heights where there is a risk of falling.

Know the legal limits
To protect young workers like you, state and federal laws limit the hours you can work and the kinds of work you can do. For state and federal child labor laws, visit Youth Rules.

Play it safe
Always follow safety training. Working safely and carefully may slow you down, but ignoring safe work procedures is a fast track to injury. There are hazards in every workplace and recognizing and dealing with them correctly may save your life.

Ask questions
Ask for workplace training—like how to deal with irate customers or how to perform a new task or use a new machine. Tell your supervisor, parent, or other adult if you feel threatened, harassed, or endangered at work.

Make sure the job fits
If you can only work certain days or hours, if you don’t want to work alone, or if there are certain tasks you don’t want to perform, make sure your employer understands and agrees before you accept the job.… Read the rest

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