Tag Archive for: Farms


Common Sense Child Labor Protections Under Attack

Article by Daniel Dahlman, National Consumers League

A teenager’s first job is an important rite of passage for many, offering that first taste of adult responsibility; but young teenagers are not yet adults and need to be protected from the risks of dangerous work. Certain jobs and industries, especially farming and agriculture, pose unique safety concerns. Common sense dictates that young teens be protected from hazardous agricultural work, yet it’s this common sense reasoning that’s currently under attack.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently proposed the first update to the rules governing child labor in hazardous work in over 40 years, with the strong support of NCL and the Child Labor Coalition, a group of 28 organizations focused on child labor issues that NCL co-chairs. While there has been a great deal of coverage highlighting agribusiness and its opposition to the changes, under the guise that the new rules would somehow impair the family farm or “rural way of life,” what’s often lost in the conversation is that the rules would protect children from harm, injury, and death. The opposition to these necessary changes is especially startling given the facts:

• More children die in agriculture than in any other industry.
• According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), between 1995 and 2002, an estimated 907 youth died on American farms – that’s well over 100 preventable deaths of youth per year.
• In 2011, 12 of the 16 children under the age of 16 who suffered fatal occupational injuries worked in crop production, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
• When you include older children, more than half of all workers under age 18 who died from work-related injuries worked in crop production.

Agriculture is consistently ranked as one of the three most dangerous industries, along with construction and mining, yet children are still allowed to work in agriculture under extremely dangerous conditions, such as handling poisonous pesticides, managing animals that can way upwards of 3,000 pounds, and operating heavy machinery. Just this summer, Oklahoma teens Tyler Zander and Bryce Gannon, both 17, each lost a leg in a grain auger accident. Agriculture uses far more machines and dangerous chemicals since the last update to rules for child workers more than 40 years ago.

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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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