Deaths at work among children and adolescents

Am J Dis Child. 1993 Oct;147(10):1044-7. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1993.02160340030008.


Objective: To identify and describe all nonmilitary on-the-job injury fatalities in North Carolina among persons younger than 20 years over 10 years, with special attention to potential violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Design and setting: Historical, population-based case series, with cases identified by the computerized files of the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Cases: Persons younger than 20 years who died of injuries received on the job in North Carolina between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1989.

Results: We identified 71 cases. Decedents ranged in age from 11 to 19 years, with 41% aged 17 years or younger. Cases were disproportionately male (90%), white (80%), and injured during June, July, and August (44%). Farm or field was the most frequent place of injury (27%). More than 50% of injuries involved a motorized vehicle, frequently a tractor. Similar to studies in adults, homicide was the leading cause of fatal occupational injury for females. At the time of injury, 86% of workers younger than 18 years were involved in activities that appeared to violate the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

Conclusions: This study raises questions about the adequacy of federal child labor policies as minors continue to work under conditions that place them at risk for fatal injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / mortality*
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Agriculture / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Employment / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data