Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
WAVELAND, Ind. -- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has found S & H Pallet Industries in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor provisions after a 17-year-old worker’s arm was severed in an accident at the Waveland-based wood pallets manufacturing plant. An investigation revealed that the company employed six minors, including an 11-year-old, in violation of federal law. The company has filed a timely exception to the civil money penalty assessment and requested a hearing before an administrative law judge.
“Employers who hire our nation’s youth must comply with federal and state regulations intended to keep children safe in the workplace,” said Patricia Lewis, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Indianapolis District Office. “The severe injury suffered by this 17-year-old boy is a tragic reminder of what can happen when children are permitted to operate hazardous equipment in violation of the law.”
The 17-year-old was operating a power-driven wood pallet notcher when his glove became caught in the machine, which severed his right arm above the elbow.
Acting upon information received by the state of Indiana’s Department of Labor regarding an injury to a minor, the Wage and Hour Division conducted an investigation of the company’s employment practices, which determined that all six minors employed at the plant regularly were permitted to perform prohibited hazardous tasks, such as operating power-driven band saws, circular saws, nail guns and other power-driven woodworking machines.
The FLSA establishes a minimum age of 18 for workers in those nonagricultural occupations that the secretary of labor finds and declares to be particularly hazardous, or detrimental to their health or well-being. The company specifically has been cited for allowing minors to operate woodworking machinery, a violation of Hazardous Occupations Order No. 5. It also has been cited for allowing employees under 16 to work in manufacturing occupations, employing a minor under the legal age for employment and failing to maintain date of birth records for minor employees.
Civil money penalties assessed to S & H Pallet Industries total $82,514. The Labor Department’s Child Labor Enhanced Penalty Program, as established under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, allows greater penalties to be assessed in cases involving violations of child labor provisions that cause the death or serious injury of a minor.
For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Indianapolis District Office at 317-226-6801. Information also is available online at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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