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Protecting Youth at Work: Health, Safety, and Development of Working Children and Adolescents in the United States
41 percent were doing work prohibited by federal child labor laws. Citations for safety violations were issued in 70 percent of these deaths.
Based on currently available data, injuries that are identified and specified as related to work appear to represent only a small percentage of all the injuries suffered by children and adolescents. Nevertheless, work-related injuries are widely recognized to be under-reported. As a national policy, the United States treats workplaces differently than other places. The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed "to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions" (29 U.S.C. §651 (b)). Current child labor laws demand a higher degree of safety for those under the age of 18 by prohibiting them from engaging in jobs determined to be hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. Furthermore, people generally are more averse to risks that are not under their control (i.e., risks imposed on them) than they are to those over which they believe they have control or which they voluntarily assume (National Research Council, 1989; Slovik, 1987). The committee believes that most young people (and their parents) expect their workplaces to be safe and, therefore, do not voluntarily assume the risk of injury at work. The laws, in combination with the different values placed on voluntary versus involuntary risks, argue for attention to work-related injuries, particularly in cases when changes in the workplace could prevent injury.
Children and adolescents routinely face hazardous working conditions. In spite of being legally prohibited from the most hazardous jobs, significant numbers of teens are still injured on the job each year. Factors that contribute to these injuries are largely determined by where the youngsters work, but the specific characteristics of workplace risks need to be better understood. Attention also should be paid to the roles played by inexperience, age, and developmentally inappropriate work assignments, as well as to factors related to physical and emotional development. Virtually no research has been done on illnesses resulting from occupational exposure during adolescence.
Existing injury surveillance systems contain significant gaps. No single data source captures all occupational injuries. Although CFOI