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Mike Bryant
Mike Bryant
Attorney • (800) 770-7008

Young People Working on The Farm and Safety

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We have for years been around farm families. I have hired employees who learned their work ethic on the farm. We have represented people injured on the farm and have figured the loss when outside injures have harmed a member of a farm family.

It was with this background that I have been following the actions in Washington concerning the U.S. Department of Labor's proposed rules that would have barred young hired farm workers from performing a range of hazardous tasks. It now looks like those actions will be abandoned.

It seems that tradition and economics have won out over the additional safety. As the Minneapolis Tribune reported:

The fatality rate for young agricultural workers is four times that of their peers working elsewhere, proponents of the proposal pointed out. They contend that the 40-year-old existing rules for children working on farms need updating for modern equipment and mechanization — and need to be brought in line with rules in other industries.

The rules were intended to bar hired workers younger than 16 from:

  • Tasks such as crawling up structures taller than 6 feet,
  • Vaccinating livestock
  • and Driving ATVs

It seems to me that there is an in between solution here. We have dealt with cases where children were put in work situations where they shouldn't have been. They are too young and too inexperienced. Sometimes there is insurance coverage, but that really is too late to be thinking safety when early protection would prevent the injury in the first place.

I hope that the talks will continue and that safety will continue to be the forefront of the reason for any rules.