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A 16-year-old Massachusetts youth was fatally injured at work while operating a forklift.

FACE Facts 2002 Jul; 5(2):1-2
Background: By the time teenagers leave high school, approximately 80 percent will have held a job. While work has many benefits, it also can pose risks. Approximately 70 teenagers under the age of 18 in the US die each year from injuries incurred on the job. In this incident the victim was performing a task prohibited for teens under the child labor laws, operating a forklift. In addition, the employer did not have a comprehensive health and safety program. Investigation: The victim, a 16-year-old male part-time cleaning helper, was fatally injured when the forklift he was operating overturned at a seafood processing/retail facility. The victim was operating a forklift to move a wooden pallet loaded with trash. The load was raised approximately 4 1/2 feet when the victim made a right-hand turn causing the forklift to overturn. The victim had either jumped or was thrown from the operator's seat. When the forklift overturned the overhead guard landed on his chest, crushing him. Prevention Strategies: In order to prevent similar incidents in the future, the Massachusetts FACE Project recommends that employers of young workers should: Understand and comply with state and federal child labor laws. Post child labor laws in the workplace. Affix a warning sticker to all forklifts that states no employees under 18 years of age can operate forklifts (exceptions in agricultural work for youth 16 and older). Make sure front-line supervisors who give work assignments know the child labor laws. Provide increased supervision for teen employees. Studies have found that teens, like other new workers, have higher on-the-job injury rates than adults. It has been reported that approximately 80% of on-the-job injuries to teens occurred when no supervisor was present. Provide all employees with training about workplace health and safety and the child labor laws. Training should address identifying and eliminating hazards as well as how to do jobs safely. Encourage teens to speak up if there are health and safety problems, if the instructions to complete tasks are unclear, or if asked to perform tasks prohibited by child labor laws.
Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Injury-prevention; Protective-measures; Age-factors; Industrial-equipment; Warning-systems
Occupational Health Surveillance Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 250 Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02108
Publication Date
Document Type
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Traumatic Injuries
Source Name
Fatality Investigation Report: FACE Facts
Performing Organization
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division