out to be an important factor in their work-related injury rates. Injury may also result from a physical mismatch between the size of the child or adolescent and the task: For example, machinery that was designed for adult males may be too large or heavy for children or adolescents to handle safely.

Child Labor Laws and Regulations and Education

Work by children and adolescents is regulated at both the federal and state levels. The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), administered by the Employment Standards Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor, is the primary federal law governing child labor. The FLSA sets limits on the number of hours that those younger than 16 may work and restricts those under 18 from being employed in certain hazardous nonagricultural occupations. The standards are much less restrictive for children and adolescents working in agriculture than for those employed in nonagricultural jobs, reflecting the social norms of six decades ago. Each state also has its own child labor standards, which vary widely, with some states permitting 50 or more hours of work per week during the school year for youths under the age of 18. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which regulates workplace health and safety protections for workers in the United States, makes no special provisions for the health and safety needs of working children and adolescents.

Education and training is a complement to laws and regulations. Education about the employment of children and adolescents has three purposes: informing young people, parents, educators, employers, and others about child labor laws and regulations; training them to prevent work-related illness and injury and to respond appropriately to workplace hazards; and improving the quality of youngsters' work experiences, minimizing the harmful consequences and maximizing the benefits.


Working provides benefits to children and adolescents, but the benefits do not come without potential risks to the workers' physical, emotional, educational, and social development. Because so many children and adolescents participate in the U.S. work force,

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