periodic work (such as baling hay), which often involves early morning or late evening work, or both, in addition to standard work hours or school attendance. Adolescents may be particularly susceptible to fatigue due to physiological changes that cause them to require more sleep (Carskadon, 1990, 1997; Carskadon et al., 1980; see Chapter 4). Fatigue or drowsiness associated with extended work hours may lead to poor judgment in performing duties, including the temptation to take dangerous shortcuts. Agricultural work is strenuous physical work—such as lifting heavy loads, working in awkward positions, and constantly repeating actions—that has been linked to musculoskeletal trauma (Bernard, 1997). How these activities may differentially affect children and adolescents has yet to be examined. Strenuous physical labor may be compounded by the effects of high temperatures in the fields, making agricultural workers subject to heat-related illnesses and injuries (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1993). It is known that young children are more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses than adults; however, whether older children and adolescents are also more vulnerable than adults is not known (Arroyo and Kurre, 1997).
In addition to being exposed to the risks from agricultural work that all young workers on farms may experience, migrant farm-worker children experience additional risks, including living under adverse housing and sanitary conditions and having problems related to the children's inability to obtain consistent and good education. Because of moving on a seasonal basis, changing schools, missing the beginnings or ends of semesters, and possibly having difficulties with English as a second language, these children are candidates for dropping out of school before obtaining their high-school diplomas. They are also less likely to learn the skills that could lead to careers other than farm work as their primary occupation as adults. Migrant farmworker adolescents often lack their families' supervision. The National Agricultural Workers Survey found that 47 percent of farmworkers below the age of 18 do not live with their parents; 80 percent of farmworker teens born outside the United States live away from their parents (Mines et al., 1997).