July 10, 2008
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Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) has issued its annual report for 2008 on the Five Worst Teen Jobs, with recent accidental deaths in agriculture keeping work in fields and processing at the top of the list for the second year running. Based on statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a teen American worker is injured on the job every two minutes, and one teen dies from a workplace injury every five days. Reid Maki, NCL’s Director for Social Responsibility and Coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition, reminded teens and parents that it’s not too late to focus on safety when considering a summer job.
“More than half a million youth help harvest our nation’s crops each year. Farms may look bucolic and pretty, but they have proven too often to be dangerous workplaces, especially in fields where heavy machinery like tractors are used,” said Maki. “Summer provides numerous opportunities for young workers across the country to make some extra money, whether it’s in the fields, in a retail store, or making French fries in a fast food restaurant. It’s crucial for teens and their parents to understand the dangers of summer work, especially when it comes to the jobs that have made our list.”
Maki cited two 2008 examples of fatal incidents involving young agriculture workers, which helped put fieldwork and processing at the top of this year’s list: In May, Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, a 17-year-old farmworker died in San Joaquin County, California of heat stroke after working nine hours in a vineyard. Jimenez was pregnant at the time. In January, Edilberto Cardenas, 17, was killed in a Groveland, Florida citrus grove. It was his first day on the job. Cardenas was emptying bags of oranges into a truck when then truck backed over him.
NCL’s Five Worst Teen Jobs of 2008
- Agriculture: Fieldwork and Processing
- Traveling Youth Crews
- Construction and Work in Heights
- Driver/Operator: Forklifts, Tractors, and ATVs
- Outside Helper: Landscaping, Groundskeeping, and Lawn Service
The Five Worst Jobs of 2008 list includes both jobs that are permitted for teens by law and those that are prohibited by child labor laws, underscoring the need for teens, parents, and employers to be aware of existing protections. For example, operating forklifts, driving farm equipment, working on roofs, and applying or handling pesticides on farms are currently outlawed. Furthermore, despite urging by advocates for Congress and the Department of Labor to prohibit the what are know as the “most dangerous forms of child labor,” some of the activities on the list remain legally permitted work for teens, including work at heights, poultry catching and processing, driving tractors and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), operating chain saws (prohibited for only use on wood) and working on traveling youth crews that sell magazines or other products. All are legal work for minors, despite compelling statistics about the heightened threat of occupational injuries and deaths to working youth.
NCL compiles the Five Worst Teen Jobs each year using government statistics and reports, results from the Child Labor Coalition’s annual survey of state labor departments, and news accounts of injuries and deaths.
About the National Consumers League
Founded in 1899, the National Consumers League is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Its mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. NCL is a private, nonprofit membership organization. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.