Report: 452 child workers died in the US from 2003 to 2016


Report: 452 child workers died in the US from 2003 to 2016

Jessica Goldstein

5 January 2019

About 452 child workers died in the United States from 2003 to 2016, according to a December 20 analysis by the Washington Post. Over 16 percent of those, or a total of 73, were children aged 12 years and younger. The age groups with the next highest number of deaths were 16- and 17-year-olds, with 110 and 145 deaths during those years, respectively.

A child worker is recognized by the US government as any worker under 18 years of age. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act—a set of federal laws which set age, hours worked, wage and safety requirements for minors in the US—14 is the minimum age for most non-agricultural work.

However, there are many exemptions to the law. In the US, children are legally allowed to deliver newspapers, perform in radio, television, movies or theatrical productions at any age. They are also allowed to work in businesses owned by their parents (except in mining, manufacturing or what are deemed to be “hazardous jobs”), perform babysitting or minor chores around a private home, and work as homeworkers to gather evergreens and make evergreen wreaths.

The majority of child deaths from 2003 to 2016—52 percent, or a total of 235—occurred in agriculture, although agricultural workers account for less than one-fifth of the total number of child laborers in the US. The disproportionate number can be attributed to the fact that the agricultural, forestry, fishing and hunting sector, which accounted for over 11 percent of total workplace deaths in 2017, is one of the most dangerous occupations in the US.

Another cause is that small family farms are exempt from most government regulations of child labor in the US. The US Occupational Safety and…

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