Youth Farming Fatalities
Did You Know?
- More than 300,000 farmers in the United States are under age 18.
- Farm accidents claim up to 300 children’s lives per year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and more than 26,000 are injured.
- Youth are four times more likely to be killed while performing farm work than those in all other industries combined.
U.S. Department of Labor Withdraws Proposed Youth Farm Labor Rules
On May 1, 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDL) withdrew its proposed youth farm labor rules, a controversial new set of regulations for young people working in agriculture.
The rules would have prohibited youth under the age of 16 from:
- operating farm machinery with more than 20 PTO horsepower
- working in grain and feed facilities and completing tasks at elevations more than six-feet high−among many other commonly performed livestock practices.
However, critics said the rules would also have prevented children from helping on family farms.
More than 300,000 farmers in the United States are under age 18. Farm accidents claim up to 300 children’s lives per year, according to the USDL, and more than 26,000 are injured. Youth are four times more likely to be killed while performing farm work than those in all other industries combined.
In response to the withdrawal, the Child Labor Coalition said the USDL’s decision to rescind the proposal means more children will die in farm accidents that could have been prevented. However, the American Farm Bureau Federation complained the proposed prohibitions would threaten farmers’ heritage and traditional way of life.
The USDL said it finally withdrew the proposal, which had been a year in the making after thousands of owners of small farms also objected to it with concerns that the rules would ban children from doing all farm work. Child advocacy groups said political leaders misconstrued the rule to create that impression.
Human Rights Watch noted that the real victims of hazards while doing farm work are poor and often migrant Hispanic children who do seasonal farm work. The organization pointed out that, in addition to deaths as a result of accidents such as suffocation in grain elevators and being maimed by heavy farm machinery, these youth are exposed to toxic pesticides.
After withdrawing the proposal, the USDL said instead of pursuing the rules it will work with rural stakeholders, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, FFA, and 4-H, to promote safety among youth farm .
If you are a youth farm worker or your children work with farm equipment, visit these resources for information about how to stay safe on the job:
If you’ve been injured by farm equipment or have lost wages or loved ones due to injury on the job, you have been wronged and you deserve justice.
Remember, you don’t have to use farm equipment negligently for it to malfunction. Farm equipment malfunctions occur because companies don’t design safe machinery. And manufacturers often fail to warn you of all the ways you can be injured while using these heavy, complex machines.
When farmers are injured by unsafe farm machinery without adequate warnings for secure operation, it is the equipment not that is considered “defective”−a term that applies to poor design, improper manufacturing, negligent marketing, or all three.
Consequently, if you are an injured farm worker, if one of your family members has been injured or died working on a farm, or if you have lost wages due to injury, you may be entitled to compensation−including payments above and beyond Worker’s Compensation.
For a free and totally confidential consultation, contact the Farm Injury Resource Center.