Work-related injuries in minors

Am J Ind Med. 1988;14(5):585-95. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700140509.


Since 1938, federal child labor laws have restricted employment of persons under 18 years old, in part to protect them from hazardous occupations. Workers' compensation claims reported to the Supplementary Data System of the Bureau of Labor Statistics were examined to define the current status of occupational injuries among minors. Data tapes from 1980 to 1983 were searched to identify all current claims for injuries and illnesses occurring in 1980 in persons under age 18. Injury rates were calculated using information about employment in 1979 available from the 1980 census. In the 24 states included in this study, 23,823 claims were reported for persons less than 18 years old. Of these claims, approximately 10% were from persons under age 16. Rates of injuries in 16- and 17 year olds were 12.6 per 100 full-time male workers and 6.6 per 100 full-time female workers. Serious injuries included fractures, dislocations, and amputations, accounting for 5.8%, 0.7%, and 0.6% of cases, respectively. California, the only state that coded whether injuries resulted in fatalities, reported 12 deaths in this age group. Machines and vehicles, many of which are restricted under child labor laws, accounted for 8.3% and 5.8% of claims. These data suggest that persons under age 18 years are not adequately protected from occupational injury. Further attention and, possibly, new preventive strategies are needed.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Risk
  • United States
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology