October 1993

Deaths at Work Among Children and Adolescents

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Emergency Medicine, East Carolina University School of Medicine, Greenville, NC (Dr Dunn), and the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education (Dr Runyan) and the Injury Prevention Research Center (Drs Dunn and Runyan), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Am J Dis Child. 1993;147(10):1044-1047. 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.(AJDC. 1993;147:1044-1047)