A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report suggests that youth farm injuries are declining across the country, with the total number of injuries cut nearly in half since 2001. This trend is cheering to many farmers worried about recent Labor Department proposals that could restrict child agricultural labor.
According to the report, which tracked youth related injuries for farm workers under 20, youth injuries dropped from over 13 per 1,000 workers in 2001 to just a little over 7 per 1,000 workers in 2009. The aggregate number of injuries dropped from 29,277 in 2001 to 15,876 in 2009.
The report, some farmers say, is proof that the recently proposed changes to agricultural child labor regulations are unnecessary. Late last year, the Labor Department proposed changing several decades-old agricultural labor regulations. Among the new changes would be a ban on children under 16 from using powered farm machinery, a ban on some underage minors working with animals, and a ban on minors working in silos.
In the face of significant agricultural protest, the Labor Department announced that they were retooling several exemptions to the law, allowing children working in a farm owned or operated by a parent or guardian to be protected from the new rules.
While the USDA report does not list any causal link to the drop in injuries, many farmers say that it is evidence that individual safety regulations, improved technologies, and more attention to safety education are improving working conditions without federal involvement.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer