Labor Coalition of the National Consumers League reported that the total amounts collected by the states in penalties for child labor violations in 1992 ranged from $0 to $150,000, with a majority of states collecting nothing. For those that did collect at least one fine, the minimum civil penalty for a single child labor violation ranged from $5 to $150, and the maximum ranged from $50 to $10,000. Very few states even permit fines as high as $10,000. States' standards for and enforcement of criminal penalties for child labor violations also vary dramatically.

Occupational Safety and Health Act

Standards set by OSHA under the Occupational Safety and Health Act do not specifically target young workers or their employers in its standards-setting or enforcement activities. OSHA uses targeted inspections to achieve compliance; inspections are also performed after workers complain of violations and after accidents or deaths. The agency delegates enforcement to state agencies with approved occupational safety and health programs, which must be at least as effective as the federal OSHA standards. As of August 1997, 23 states had such plans.12

Exacerbating the problem of limited resources for enforcing child labor laws and regulations is the equally limited authority of each of the relevant agencies to cite employers for violations that are not within their jurisdiction. For example, compliance officers from the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division may not cite obvious violations of OSHA's health and safety standards. The Wage and Hour Division can refer violations to OSHA, and vice versa, under an existing agreement between the agencies; however, no records are kept of how many referrals are made or of the disposition of the referrals, so the effectiveness of interagency referral is difficult to study. Violations by companies that do not satisfy the minimum threshold for coverage by the Fair Labor Standards Act are referred to the states' labor departments, which might or might


The 23 states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

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