A Webster, New York, cider mill has been assessed a $51,450 civil penalty by the U.S. Labor Department for violations of federal child labor laws following an accident in which an underage worker suffered an amputation.

In the incident, a 12-year-old boy severed his arm below the elbow while operating an auger. The youth's limb was successfully reattached at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

According to Michael Fitzgerald, assistant district director of the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division, the firm was cited for employing a child under the legal age for employment, for permitting a child under 18 years to operate a machine prohibited by a Hazardous Occupations Order, and for permitting a child to work in a warehouse, a prohibited area.

Violations were also found involving six other minors employed at the mill. Those violations included:

  • being under-age for employment,
  • working excessive hours,
  • performing prohibited occupations, and
  • working in a prohibited area.

The minors were also found to be working "off the books" in violation of record-keeping requirements.

Under the federal child labor provisions established by the Fair Labor Standards Act, 14 is the minimum age for most non-farm work. Fourteen- and-15-year-olds generally may not work during school hours. In addition to limiting the hours and time of day minors may work, child labor regulations specify prohibited children under 16 years of age from working in the manufacturing, mining, and construction industries and from being employed in warehouses and workrooms.

The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration also cited the firm for failing to properly guard the auger, an alleged serious violation carrying a $1,050 penalty.