After seeing an increase in child labor law violations in 2021 and 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is cracking down on employers who jeopardize the safety of teen workers.
DOL’s Wage and Hour Division investigated three teen worker fatalities in 2021 and another in May 2022. In fiscal year 2021 alone, the division found 2,819 minors employed in violation of the law and assessed employers with nearly $3.4 million in civil money penalties.
In the months leading up to July 2022, the division has taken strong enforcement actions, including:
- fining a Schlotzsky’s restaurant $17,818 for allowing 16- and 17-year-old workers to clean and operate a deli meat slicer on a daily basis
- assessing a $154,831 fine against a Super 1 Foods store for permitting minor employees to operate power-driven trash compactors and box balers, and
- fining three Fred Meyer stores $55,440 for allowing teens to regularly load power-driven box balers.
These three cases illustrate the types of child labor violations most commonly cited by investigators.
5 hazardous occupations account for 61% of injuries
Since October 2017, five hazardous occupations have accounted for about 90% of non-agricultural hazardous occupation violations and 61% of non-agricultural child labor injuries. These hazardous occupations are:
- driving a motor vehicle or working as an outside helper on motor vehicles
- operating a power-driven hoisting apparatus, including forklifts
- cleaning and operating power-driven meat-processing machines
- operating power-driven bakery machines, and
- operating paper-products machines, including compactors and balers.
The division recently launched a website providing seven child labor best practices for employers that “focuses on the importance of training, sharing information and using practical tools to identify hazardous occupations young workers must avoid.”