"From a fatality standpoint, farm work is the most dangerous occupation for kids," she said. "In farm work, youths are working around heavy equipment, digging and cutting with sharp implements. There are deaths almost every year from young people suffocating in grain bins."
Youths working on family farms have practically no legal protections and often drive while underage and operate tractors and other heavy equipment.
Runyan began her research while director of the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center. She now directs the University of Colorado's Pediatric Injury Prevention, Education and Research Program.
Runyan and colleagues John Lewko, Ph.D., of Laurentian University in Ontario and Kimberly Rauscher, ScD, of West Virginia University, are using the report to advocate for stronger federal monitoring of youth worker safety, including assuring that children working on farms are better protected. They are also encouraging more research into preventing workplace injuries among young people.
Runyan also stressed the need for parental involvement.
"We need to make sure that the jobs our kids take are safe," she said. "But ultimately it's not the responsibility of 15-year-olds to ensure their safety it's the responsibility of employers."
|Contact: David Kelly|
University of Colorado Denver