215067 Adolecent worker fatalities involving child labor and OSHA violations in North Carolina (1991- 2008)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Kimberly J. Rauscher, ScD, MA , Department of Community Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Carol W. Runyan, PhD , Injury Prevention Research Center and Dept. of Health Behavior and Health Education, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel HIll, NC
Purpose: Hundreds of thousands of US adolescents are employed in violation of the child labor laws annually putting them at risk of injury and death. We examined work-related fatalities in North Carolina among 11- to 17-year-olds during 1991-2008 to determine whether violations of the child labor laws (CLL) and OSHA standards were implicated. We also determined the extent to which cases were investigated by the US and NC Departments of Labor. Methods: Data from the NC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner were used to identify work-related fatalities. These data, along with NCDOL and USDOL investigation reports, were reviewed to determine if CLL or OSHA violations were implicated in the deaths. Results: Fifteen of the 31 adolescent work-related fatalities we identified involved a youth who was injured doing a prohibited job/task. Operating motor vehicles and doing roofing work were the two most common violations. Eleven cases involved an OSHA violation. Among the cases for which enforcement activity could be determined, 9 were investigated by the USDOL (4 had CLL violations), 1 was investigated by the NCDOL (1 work permit violation) and 11 were investigated by the NC Division of Occupational Health and Safety (all had violations). Conclusions: Half of the adolescent workers fatally injured on the job in NC since 1990 were killed because they were performing tasks that violated the US CLL and/or OSHA health and safety standards. The extent of investigations of adolescent worker fatalities by enforcement agencies needs improvement to better detect violations and hold employers accountable.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the extent and nature of adolescent worker fatalities that involved violations of the US child labor laws and OSHA standards in North Carolina during the period of 1991 - 2008. Describe the extent and nature of investigations performed by the US and NC Departments of Labor for child labor and OSHA violations related to adolescent worker fatality cases in North Carolina during 1991 and 2008.

Keywords: Occupational Injury and Death, Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a research scientist trained in occupational health and safety policy and injury prevention and am the Principal Investigator of the study on which I will be presenting results.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.