FLSA – Child Labor

An Ohio lathe mill has paid an enhanced child labor enforcement penalty of $22,093 after federal investigators found the company employed a 15-year-old worker illegally in a hazardous occupation –the operation of a sawmill – which led the worker to suffer injury when he became entangled in the gears of a powered wood processing machine.

Federal child labor laws, enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, forbid minors under the age of 18 from employment in hazardous occupations.

In addition to the hazardous occupation violation, division investigators learned Walnut Creek Lumber in Dundee, employed four minors under the age of 16 outside the hours allowed by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The division determined the teens worked before 7 a.m., more than 8 hours on non-school days, and more than 40 hours during non-school weeks. The mill employed the teens to move and stack wood pieces for processing.

“Federal child labor laws protect children under age 18 from being employed in occupations the Secretary of Labor finds particularly hazardous,” explained Wage and Hour Division District Director, Matthew Utley, in Columbus, Ohio. “No child should ever be exposed to dangerous workplace machinery. Employers must verify that the minors they employ are working in compliance with child labor provisions for hours worked and duties assigned.”

In addition to the child labor infractions, the division found Walnut Creek Lumber owed two adult drivers $679 in overtime back wages.

In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that workers aged 16-19 years old comprised nearly 11 percent of the nation’s workforce. From the fiscal year 2017-2021, the department identified child labor violations in more than 4,000 cases, finding more than 13,000 minor-aged workers employed in violation.

Federal law sets specific limits on when and how long workers under the age of 16 may work. It also forbids workers under age 18 from working in hazardous occupations. To assist employers in avoiding violations, and inform young workers and their parents, the division has published its “Seven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers.” https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/child-labor/seven-child-labor-best-practices-for-employers
Fact sheet #43 can be found at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fact-sheets/43-child-labor-non-agriculture