A new study on occupational safety among teenaged workers in the U.S. found that 20,000 teens were injured and 88 killed in work-related incidents in 2010. In what should be a surprise to no one, agriculture proved to be the most hazardous industry.
Researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health found that in many instances, the deaths and injuries were the result of poorly regulated work environments.
"We don't tend to think of child labor as a major issue in the U.S., but we should," study author Carol Runyan said in a University of Colorado news release. "Laws governing the employment of youth ages 14 to 17 in this country are often very lenient and, in the case of family farms, virtually non-existent."
"From a fatality standpoint, farm work is the most dangerous occupation for kids," said Runyan, who also is a professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health. "In farm work, youths are working around heavy equipment, digging and cutting with sharp implements. There are deaths almost every year from young people suffocating in grain bins."
Researchers have found that more than a quarter of the millions of employees who are under the age of 18 working at least part of the day without an adult supervisor. At least one-third report not having received any health and safety training.
Runyan noted that young people working on family farms have virtually no legal protections and often drive while underage and operate tractors and other heavy equipment.
The report was published in the journal Public Health Reports.