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Working for mom and dad: are teens more likely to get injured working in family-owned businesses?

Zierold KM; Appana S; Anderson HA
J Community Health 2012 Feb; 37(1):186-194
Recent controversy regarding the issue of children working in family-owned businesses has come to the forefront, pitting safety and health versus parent's right to teach their children the family trade. While studies have characterized injury among working teens, no studies have assessed work and injury among teens employed in family-owned businesses. This study is the first to examine teenagers working in family-owned businesses and to compare the experiences of teens working in family-businesses to the experiences of other working teens. A questionnaire was distributed to 8,085 teens in high schools throughout the five public health regions of Wisconsin. A total of 6, 810 teens responded (84%). Overall 2,858 high school teens aged 14-17 reported working (42%); of which 963 (34%) worked in a family-business. Teens working in family-businesses were more likely to report that their injury was severe, affecting their activities for more than three days, compared with other working teens (33% vs. 21%, P = 0.05). The percentage of teens working in family-businesses that reported broken bones or crushed body parts was 17% compared to only 5% of other-working teens. Additionally, teens employed in family-businesses were more likely to file for workers' compensation (28% vs. 12%, P = 0.005). Teens working in family-owned businesses may be at a greater risk for more severe injury based on the jobs and tasks they are doing. Teens working in family-owned businesses were more likely to report engaging in dangerous tasks, including some that are illegal under the Hazardous Occupation Orders. More research is needed to assess the dynamics that exist for teens working in family-owned businesses.
Occupations; Families; Children; Age-factors; Age-groups; Accident-analysis; Injuries; Employees; Employee-health; Questionnaires; Health-surveys; Lost-work-days; Risk-analysis; Health-hazards; Regulations; Work-environment; Work-practices; Hazards; Safety-research; Small-businesses; Author Keywords: Child labor; Family business; Workplace injuries
K. M. Zierold, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, School of Public Health and Information Sciences, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40202, USA
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U01-OH-007298; B05222012
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Journal of Community Health
Performing Organization
Wisconsin State Department of Health and Family Services
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division