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News Release

Middlefield, Ohio, pallet maker fined for illegally employing 14-year-old to operate machine, resulting in hand amputation

Company assessed nearly $40K in penalties for violating child labor laws

MIDDLEFIELD, Ohio — A teenage worker's life was altered forever when his Middlefield employer illegally allowed him to operate a wood planer, which amputated a 14-year-old's hand.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division assessed civil money penalties of nearly $40,000 to Shady Knob Pallet Co. after investigators found the company violated child labor laws when they allowed a minor to operate a planer. On March 25, 2015, the planer cut off the minor's right hand. In its inspection, the division also found the injured worker and another minor, 16, were illegally operating a forklift at the facility, another violation of the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

"No amount of money will replace this child's hand, or compensate for how this will affect him the rest of his life. Employers need to take their obligations under child labor laws seriously, and ensure that young workers are kept safe on the job," said George Victory, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Columbus. "Through education and tough enforcement, we work to ensure compliance. Youth employment provides valuable experience, but that experience must never come at the expense of safety. We hope that this case serves as a wake-up call to other employers and ensures compliance with critical workplace protections."

Under federal law, workers under age 18 may not operate power-driven woodworking machinery or hoisting equipment.

The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company for 17 serious safety violations earlier this year.

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 workers or detrimental to their health or well-being. Youth ages 14 and 15 may be employed outside of school hours in a variety of nonmanufacturing, nonmining, and nonhazardous jobs for limited periods of time and under specified conditions. These rules must be followed unless a specific exemption applies. More information on child labor rules can be found at and, or call the division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) for more information.

Wage and Hour Division
November 24, 2015
Release Number
Media Contact: Scott Allen
Phone Number
Media Contact: Rhonda Burke
Phone Number