Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Injuries Fall for Young Farm and Ranch Workers

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(Dow Jones) — Young people working on farms are suffering fewer injuries, according to data from a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report. The finding could provide ammunition to opponents of an Obama administration push to restrict child labor in agriculture.

Workers under age 20 had 3,191 nonfatal injuries on farms in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, down 36{fd15d42d1b024b97d6d50958be27cc8145b6addb99e015780abccf2984117bb0} from 4,964 injuries in 2006, the USDA said in the report issued Thursday.

Every three years, the department surveys farmers on injuries suffered by family members and hired workers under 20 years old. Its reports are considered among the most authoritative on such injuries.

Experts say an increased focus on safety and more training and education have helped bring down the number of work-related injuries on farms.

(This story and related background material will be available on The Wall Street Journal website, WSJ.com.)

The new data come as the Department of Labor considers the first changes in four decades to rules for children working on farms, long one of the most-dangerous places in America for kids to work.

The proposal would bar children 15 and younger from tasks including driving farm equipment and working in tobacco fields.

Children under 18 would no longer be allowed to work in grain elevators and livestock feed yards.

The proposed changes drew more than 10,000 comments during a three-month window for public input that ended Dec. 1. Many criticized the planned changes, saying they would go too far and could disrupt the tradition of family farming.

A final decision is pending, and the Labor Department in February called for a new round of comments on an exemption in the rules for children working for their parents — a move some opponents took as a sign it is reconsidering the proposals.

The new data show “the numbers are trending in the right direction,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, which has called the Obama administration’s regulatory push an overreach. The new numbers “suggest the Department of Labor was well advised to back off a little and rethink some of these provisions,” Johnson said.

A spokesman for the Labor Department didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The department has previously said it decided to clamp down because regulations for farm work hadn’t kept pace with measures to protect youths in nonagricultural jobs.

 

Source:  Dow Jones

Posted by Haylie Shipp

 

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