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Am J Public Health. 2007 Feb;97(2):276-82. Epub 2006 Dec 28.

Changing the child labor laws for agriculture: impact on injury.

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  • 1National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI 54449, USA.



The child labor laws are intended to protect young workers from the most dangerous jobs. However, children who work on their parents' farms are exempt from these laws. We evaluated the potential for preventing the occurrence of farm injuries among children by changing the US Federal Child Labor Laws, Hazardous Occupations Orders for Agriculture.


A retrospective case series of 1193 farm injuries among children from the United States and Canada was assembled. The Hazardous Occupations Orders were systematically applied to each case. Injury preventability was estimated.


A total of 286 (24%) cases of injury involved immediate family members engaged in farm work. Among these children, 33% of those aged younger than 16 years and 36% of those aged 16 or 17 years were performing work prohibited under the Hazardous Occupations Orders.


Removing the family farm exemption from the Hazardous Occupations Orders and raising the age restriction for performing hazardous agricultural work from 16 to 18 years would be efficacious in preventing the most serious injuries experienced by young family farm workers. Potential reductions in injury would meet Healthy People 2010 goals for reducing traumatic injury in the agricultural sector.

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