Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
WAVELAND, Ind. -- S & H Pallet Industries has reached a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor after the firmís violation of the Fair Labor Standards Actís child labor provisions resulted in a 17-year-old workerís arm being severed in an accident at the Waveland-based wood pallet manufacturing plant in 2010. An investigation by the departmentís Wage and Hour Division also revealed that the company employed three other minors, including an 11-year-old, who were operating hazardous equipment, in violation of federal law.
ďThe severe injury suffered by this minor employee is a grim reminder of what can happen when children are illegally permitted to operate hazardous equipment,Ē said Patricia Lewis, director of the Wage and Hour Divisionís Indianapolis District Office. ďThe department will continue to use all enforcement tools available, including the assessment of civil money penalties, to achieve compliance with these regulations and to ensure the safety of our working youth.Ē
Under the terms of the settlement, the company will pay $56,505 in civil money penalties. The penalties were assessed as part of the departmentís Child Labor Enhanced Penalty Program, as established under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which allows greater penalties to be assessed in cases involving violations of child labor provisions that cause the death or serious injury of a minor.
The 17-year-old was operating a power-driven wood pallet notcher when his right arm was severed above the elbow. The company specifically was cited for allowing minors to operate woodworking machinery, a violation of Hazardous Occupations Order No. 5.
The three other minors, ages 11 to 17, were children of two full-time machine operators. The minors assisted in operating machinery, a violation of Child Labor Regulation 3, which prohibits employees under 16 from working in manufacturing occupations. The minors regularly assisted in the performance of prohibited hazardous tasks, such as operating power-driven band saws, circular saws, nail guns and other power-driven woodworking machines. Children under the age of 14 are not allowed to be employed.
The FLSA establishes a minimum age of 18 for workers in those nonagricultural occupations that the secretary of labor declares to be particularly hazardous for 16- and 17-year-old and younger workers, or detrimental to their health or well-being. A list of hazardous occupations prohibited for minors is available on the Wage and Hour Divisionís website at http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/docs/haznonag.asp. Additional information on child labor rules can be found at http://www.youthrules.dol.gov/index.htm.
For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Divisionís toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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