Posts Tagged ‘young workers’

Young workers + injuries + labor law violations = huge penalties

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Every summer, we beat the drum about the moral mandate of keeping young workers safe. But as with many things, the morale mandate all too often speaks to employers in a soft voice while money shouts in a big voice. So if “doing the right thing” isn’t enough of a reason to keep kids safe, there’s also a big economic incentive in the form of penalty avoidance for employers to toe the line when it comes to safety and strict adherence to youth labor laws: if a young worker is injured, the employer may be subject to steep additional penalties if labor law violations are present. These penalties are “uninsurable” – that is, they will be out-of-pocket for the employer since the insurer is not on the hook for penalties related to an employer’s labor law violations.
In Denmark v. Industrial Manufacturing Specialists, Inc., the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently upheld double compensation for an injured 16 year old worker due to the employer’s child labor laws violations. The youth was a part-time worker who was working with a coworker to load a 1,300-pound metal bar stock onto a table so that it could be cut by a band saw when the load fell on the youth, crushing him and causing internal injuries and a fractured ankle. Even though the youth was not actually engaged in the prohibited activity (use of the band saw), “The court found a nexus between the task the worker was performing at the time of the accident and the manufacturer’s violation of the child labor laws. Therefore, the worker was entitled to double compensation for his injury.”
Before employing minors, it is essential to know and obey child labor laws, particularly in regards to prohibited work. Employers who fail in this charge may wind up paying double compensation and/or fines if an injury occurs. There are federal laws governing the employment of minors in both non-farm work and in agricultural work, but employers need to know the governing state law because the Department of Labor states that, “Where state law differs from federal law on child labor, the law with the more rigorous standard applies.”
Laws cover such matters as minimum age, prohibited work by age cohort, whether work permits are needed, and restrictions on the hours of work allowed. Here are some compliance resources for employers. As with most laws, ignorance of the law is not a defense.

Federal Laws – Hiring Youth & Compliance Assistance
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the federal child labor laws. Generally speaking, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the minimum age for employment (14 years for non-agricultural jobs), restricts the hours youth under the age of 16 may work, and prohibits youth under the age of 18 from being employed in hazardous occupations. In addition, the FLSA establishes subminimum wage standards for certain employees who are less than 20 years of age, full-time students, student learners, apprentices, and workers with disabilities. Employers generally must have authorization from WHD in order to pay sub-minimum wage rates.

Among the FLSA penalties, DOL says that:

Employers are subject to a civil money penalty of up to $11,000 per worker for each violation of the child labor provisions. In addition, employers are subject to a civil money penalty of $50,000 for each violation occurring after May 21, 2008 that causes the death or serious injury of any minor employee – such penalty may be doubled, up to $100,000, when the violations are determined to be willful or repeated.

See more at the Deparment of Labor’s Youth & Labor topic page
State Laws
Many states offer double compensation or other penalties related to an injured youth when there are labor violations. In some instances, penalties can be imposed even when the labor violations aren’t directly related to the injury.
Selected State Child Labor Standards Affecting Minors Under 18 in Non-farm Employment as of January 1, 2012
State Child Labor Laws Applicable to Agricultural Employment
Links to state labor offices
Compliance with labor laws is only one part of the employer’s responsibility: the other is ensuring a safe environment. Young workers are green workers who don’t have the experience, judgement, and work hardening that older workers have. That heightens their risk of injury. It’s important to provide task-specific training with an emphasis on safety. We also encourage the idea of pairing a young worker up with a more experienced mentor. The article Preventing Young Worker Fatalities offers a good list of tips. Also, see our prior posts about young workers for more tips.

Call to action for teen farmworker safety: Two boys lose legs in OK grain bin auger accident

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Two Oklahoma teen athletes had their lives changed forever after becoming entangled in a grain bin auger while working on a farm. News reports state that 17 year old Bryce Gannon was working at a grain bin elevator when his leg was caught in the auger. In an all-too-familiar attempted rescue scenario, his co-worker 17 year-old Tyler Zander went to his aid and also became entangled. Emergency rescue personnel had to cut apart the 12-inch metal auger in order to free the young men.
Grain bin auger accidents are brutal and severe events in which body parts become entwined in spinning equipment. They are somewhat similar in nature to power take off (PTO) shaft accidents which claimed the life of baseball great Mark Fidrych. We posted about his death and the story of PTO injury survivor Kristi Ruth who was injured when her arm was pulled into a posthole digger’s PTO while working on her family’s farm.
A case report of a farm worker fatality from a grain bin auger entanglement offers more (gruesome) detail about how such injuries occur, along with these safety recommendations.

  • Ensure that workers do not enter grain bins while the unloading mechanism is operating
  • Establish lockout/tagout procedures and ensure workers follow them any time a worker enters a grain bin or other confined space
  • Provide employees with proper training in lockout/tagout procedures and procedures for safe entry into confined spaces, such as grain bins
  • Consider utilizing grain bin and auger designs that can help ensure safety for workers such as self-unloading or bottom-unloading bins

Last year at this time, we were reporting the suffocation deaths of two teen farmworkers in a Michigan grain bin accident. 2010 was a record year for grain bin fatalities. prompting OSHA to issue fines and to put grain bin operators on notice and to ramp up inspections on dairy farms.
Teen farm safety: new rules in limbo
Celeste Monforton of The Pump Handle discusses this accident and calls the Obama administration on the carpet for stalling on regulations that would strengthen protections for young farm workers, while at the same time giving lip service to child labor protections and transparency. She notes:

The fatality rate for young workers performing hazardous tasks—-like working with a grain auger—–is two times the fatality rate for all U.S. workers. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA), administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (W&H) stipulates dozens of work activities that are too dangerous for workers of certain ages. Individuals under age 18, for example, are prohibited from working most jobs in coal mines, from forest-fire fighting, and from operating meat slicers and cardboard balers in grocery stores. However, the safety rules governing young workers employed in agricultural jobs have not been updated for 40 years.

Elizabeth Grossman also recently posted about teen workers and farm accidents at The Pump Handle: Hazards of the harvest: Children in the fields. This post includes a recounting of a recent farm accident which resulted in the deaths of two 14-year old girls on an Illinois farm. The girls were electrocuted while detasselling corn.
Grossman notes that, “The hazards of farm work are underscored by the fatality rate for young people working on farms: 21.6 deaths per 100,000 young workers, compared to 3.6 fatalities for the same number of those working in all other industries, this according to data published in 2010.”
Grain bin auger safety resources
Grain Auger Safety sheet with quiz from the Texas Department of Insurance.
Accident Extrication Procedures for Farm Families and Employees from the University of Georgia
Safety With Grain Augers from the North Dakota State University
Grain auger safety – from the University of Ilinois Extension

Against the Grain: OSHA Puts Bin Operators On Notice

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

As we noted in a blog earlier this year, the number of fatalities in grain bins reached record levels in 2010. There were 51 grain bin accidents last year, up from 38 in 2009 and the most since tracking began in 1978. Twenty-five people died, and five of them were children under age 16. The previous record for grain bin accidents was 42 in 1993. In response, OSHA has developed an explicit program to improve safety in grain bins. In doing so, they have increased the pressure on bin operators to operate safely. The stakes have been raised beyond even the robust fines that OSHA routinely hands out for violations.
As an example of the new program in action, OSHA has cited Lakeland Feed and Supply in Hamilton, Montana, for exposing workers to grain bin machine guarding and fall hazards, along with other safety and health hazards. At this point the fines total $122,500, but this might change after corrective actions and negotiations.
In detailing the serious violations, OSHA paints the picture of a hazard-filled environment that may well reflect the day-to-day operations of many grain bins across the country:

…Platforms missing guarding; no landing platform on a ladder; unguarded shafts, pulleys, chains and sprockets; the lack of an emergency evacuation plan and no fire alarm system; employees walking on grain in the bins; high levels of potentially explosive dust; the lack of a housekeeping program; not locking out augers when employees enter the bins; exposed live electrical lines; improper electrical wiring for high dust areas; and employees not trained on the hazards and chemicals associated with their work.

Not Exactly Junk Mail
As part of the grain bin initiative, OSHA has written to operators across the country, detailing specific steps to be taken to prevent accidents when workers enter storage bins. These steps include:

Turn off and lock out all powered equipment associated with the bin, including augers used to help move the grain, so that the grain is not being emptied or moving out or into the bin. Standing on moving grain is deadly; the grain can act like ‘quicksand’ and bury a worker in seconds. Moving grain out of a bin while a worker is in the bin creates a suction that can pull the workers into the grain in seconds.

Prohibit walking down grain and similar practices where an employee walks on grain to make it flow.

Provide all employees a body harness with a lifeline, or a boatswains chair, and ensure that it is secured prior to the employee entering the bin.
Provide an observer stationed outside the bin or silo being entered by an employee. Ensure the observer is equipped to provide assistance and that their only task is to continuously track the employee in the bin. Prohibit workers from entry into bins or silos underneath a bridging condition, or where a build-up of grain products on the sides could fall and bury them.
Test the air within a bin or silo prior to entry for the presence of combustible and toxic gases, and to determine if there is sufficient oxygen.
Ensure a permit is issued for each instance a worker enters a bin or silo, certifying that the precautions listed above have been implemented.

On Notice
Bin operators are on notice that the above safety procedures must be in place. By providing this unambiguous and highly detailed list, OSHA is saying, in effect, “these are the standards. Nothing less is acceptable.”
Why does this matter? Attorneys for workers injured in storage bins will review the details of any and all accidents. Where the above standards have not been met – and they are not easy to meet! – these attorneys may aggressively pursue increased sanctions against employers. In many states, injuries due to the “wilful intent” of the employer result in higher indemnity payments. In the event of serious injuries or fatalities, attorneys may attempt to pierce the “exclusive remedy” shield of workers comp and secure substantially higher benefits due to employer “negligence”.
In other words, OSHA may have raised the stakes for grain bin operators above the traditional “no fault” level. While there is nothing radically new in the required safety procedures, the fact that OSHA has presented a definitive list means that employers are accountable for each and every one of these procedures. As is customary, violations will result in heavy fines. But in addition to the fines, bin operators may be at risk for exposures well beyond the “usual and customary” comp benefits.
The working conditions in grain bins are extremely challenging. There are critical time pressures, complex mechanical issues, weather concerns and at times, a shortage of trained labor. Teenagers -all too frequently the victims in bin accidents – may or may not take safety precautions seriously. If life on the farm is difficult, life in the bins may be even harder. When it comes to safety and the protection of the people doing the work, OSHA’s sympathies are with the workers. In this environment, when serious accidents occur, employers will be judged by a single criteria: did they follow the OSHA book on grain bin safety? If not, bin operators are likely to pay, pay and pay again.

5 most dangerous jobs for teens & resources for keeping young workers safe

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Every year as summer approaches and kids join the work force, many for the first time, the National Consumer League (NCL) offers its updated list of the 5 most dangerous jobs for teens, along with excellent advice for parents and teens on keeping the work experience safe. In 2011, their picks for the most dangerous teen jobs are:

  • Agriculture: Harvesting Crops and Using Machinery
  • Construction and Height Work
  • Traveling Youth Sales Crews
  • Outside Helper: Landscaping, Groundskeeping, and Lawn Service
  • Driver/Operator: Forklifts, Tractors, and ATV’s

The NCL notes that the five worst jobs for teens are not ranked in order. They earn their place on the list because they all share higher than normal injury or fatality rates. If you are an employer who hires teens, a parent with working age teens, or a teen workers, please take the time to look at the excellent report that the NCL has compiled.
We’ve compiled some additional resources for teen safety. While many are appropriate for all groups, we’ve sorted them by primary relevance for employers, teens, and parents.
Resources for employers
Employers need to take particular care with young workers. It’s in the teens best interest and it is in every employer’s best interests as well: According to HR Daily Advisor, “A recent DOL decision assessed penalties of over $277 thousand against movie theaters for employing youths in dangerous jobs and for working them illegally long hours. Have summer hiring plans? Better review youth hiring rules.” The site offers two tip sheets for employers:
Summer Hiring? Watch for Tricky Child Labor Laws and Summer Jobs for Kids–Many Restrictions on Duties and Hours
Interstate Labor Standards Association – an organization of state labor department officials. Find your state contacts and get information on Child Labor Laws.
5 Leadership Lessons: What You Need to Know about Developing Teen Leadership
OSHA: Young Workers: Employers
NIOSH: Young Worker Safety & Health
Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries: Youth Job Safety Resources
National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety
Iowa: Iowa Safe Youth @ Work
DOL: Yout Rules: for Employers
For teen workers
American Society of Safety Engineers: Target Teen Safety Tool Kit, including the The ASSE Interactive Zombie Game
OSHA: Young Workers – site includes a variety of safety videos for teen workers, as well as resources
OSHA Young Worker Summer Job Safety
Parks & Recreation
Safe Driving
DOL: Youth Rules: for Teens
Farm Safety 4 Just Kids
California: Young Workers
Canada: Passport to Safety
CCOHS: Young Workers Zone!
CDC: Are You a Working Teen? What you should know about safety and health on the job
CDC: ¿Eres un Joven que Trabaja? Cosas que Debes Saber sobre la Seguridad y la Salud en el Trabajo
KidsHealth: Making Sure Your Teen’s Job is Safe
DOL: Youth Rules: for Parents
OSHA: Young Workers – Parents
DOL: Youth & Labor

The Pizza Delivery Chronicles, Part One: Liability

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Every time I see a marginal car with a pizza delivery sign slapped onto the roof, I think about the driver. How old? How experienced? How desperate to make a few bucks in a tough economy? And from the employer’s viewpoint: how competent is the driver? Just how far must an employer go before they entrust a driver with the plastic logo and the insulated bag for delivering pizza to those of us who want dinner delivered in a box?
These thoughts congeal like day-old pizza in the sad case of Nicole Fisk, an 18 year old driver who worked (briefly) for Pizza Hut. Nicole only had her license for 3 months when hired by Pizza Hut in Clairemont CA. She was delivering pizza in November 2008 when she blacked out and drifted across the solid line into oncoming traffic. She slammed into a car operated by Shari Novak, 62, who suffered permanent brain damage and can no longer take care of herself. Shari’s mother, Olena, suffered a broken neck.
Who Pays?
The Novaks sued Pizza Hut, arguing that the company was responsible for the collision because they hired Fisk, a relatively inexperienced driver, who had a history of suffering blackout spells. Ah, there’s the rub. What did the employer know about Nicole Fisk? Only what she told them. She had a clean record, she carried the necessary insurance and her references were fine. She was not diagnosed with epilepsy until after the crash. Pizza Hut called it an “unforeseeable medical emergency” – which can be used as a defense to a negligence lawsuit.
Jurors rejected the defense, awarding Shari Novak $8.6 million and her mother $2.2 million. As one juror put it, “Fisk should have known she could have a blackout episode because of her medical history.”
Here’s where it gets interesting and where the issue of employer accountability comes to the fore. A consultant attorney points out that Nicole lied continuously about her health problems. When she first experienced blackouts, she was put on medication for acid reflux (a seemingly bizarre diagnosis, but perhaps based upon the limited information she provided her doctors). She apparently under-reported subsequent problems to these doctors. When she applied for a driver’s license, she failed to disclose her medical condition to the Registry. And when she applied for a job at Pizza Hut, she once again lied about her condition and its potential impact on her ability to perform the job safely.
It’s not difficult to feel some sympathy for Nicole. She is only 18. Her medical condition frightens her – she probably prefers not to think about it. Like any 18 year old, she wants to drive like her friends and earn a few bucks. In her own mind, she was not endangering herself or anyone else.
Impossible Standard?
While it’s important to note that the jury did not find Pizza Hut guilty of negligent hiring, it did conclude that the company is responsible for damages because Fisk was their employee at the time of the accident. John Gomez, the attorney for the Novaks, said that the verdict should send a signal to other companies “to be a little more careful when hiring professional drivers.” This is a bit disingenuous. Surely, the attorney is not suggesting that employers (illegally) research medical records on every potential hire. In this case, Pizza Hut followed its own reasonable procedures. Other than hiring a relatively inexperienced driver, they did nothing wrong.
Nicole Fisk was initially named in the personal-injury lawsuit but was later dropped from the case. Not because she was innocent – she is responsible for the tragic events on that November day – but because she had no assets of the magnitude sought – and secured – by the Novak attorneys.
There are few lessons to be learned here. Employers are routinely held accountable for many things which they do not control. It’s not so much a matter of accountability as the crass ability to pay. In a case of this scale, with damages this severe, someone must pay. That someone, obviously, is the corporate entity that was unfortunate enough to hire Nicole Fisk.

After 2 teen deaths, OSHA puts grain handling facilities on notice

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Farm work is hazardous business. Recently, we focused on the deaths of two Michigan teen farmworkers who were killed while working in a silo. Last week, we learned about the recent deaths of two more young workers who died in an Illinois grain bin which is owned by Haasbach, LLC. Wyatt Whitebread was 14 years old and Alex Pacas was 19 years old. Officials put the cause of death at “traumatic asphyxiation, due to being engulfed in corn.”
According to reports, the boys were standing in corn as an unloading system operated. Wyatt began sinking in the corn and became trapped. As is so often the case in such incidents, coworkers rush to rescue their trapped coworker. Alex Pacas and Will Piper, 20, tried to help Whitebread but they also became trapped. Pacas’ efforts resulted in his death; Piper was rescued and hospitalized. Reports indicate that one or two other teens were also in the bin but managed to escape and call for help.
Preliminary OSHA investigations indicate that these deaths were preventable. The three workers were not wearing safety harnesses and were not equipped with life lines. In addition, reports say there was not a spotter in place who could shut down the system if there was a problem. Also, it is illegal for teens under age 16 to work in grain storage bins.
Liz Borowski of The Pump Handle reports that OSHA is taking action in light of recent grain bin deaths. It has proposed or levied fines against two other grain facilities for recent entrapments and deaths. In addition, OSHA issued letters to all grain elevator operators reminding them of their safety obligations. The OSHA letter states that employers have legal obligation to protect and train workers, and warns that they will aggressively pursue cases “use our enforcement authority to the fullest extent possible” when employers fail to fulfill their legal obligations.
According to OSHA, employer safety precautions include:
When workers enter storage bins, employers must (among other things):
1. Turn off and lock out all powered equipment associated with the bin, including augers used to help move the grain, so that the grain is not being emptied or moving out or into the bin. Standing on moving grain is deadly; the grain acts like ‘quicksand’ and can bury a worker in seconds. Moving grain out of a bin while a worker is in the bin creates a suction that can pull the workers into the grain in seconds.
2. Prohibit walking down grain and similar practices where an employee walks on grain to make it flow.
3. Provide all employees a body harness with a lifeline, or a boatswains chair, and ensure that it is secured prior to the employee entering the bin.
4. Provide an observer stationed outside the bin or silo being entered by an employee. Ensure the observer is equipped to provide assistance and that their only task is to continuously track the employee in the bin
5. Prohibit workers from entry into bins or silos underneath a bridging condition, or where a build-up of grain products on the sides could fall and bury them.
6. Test the air within a bin or silo prior to entry for the presence of combustible and toxic gases, and to determine if there is sufficient oxygen.
7. Ensure a permit is issued for each instance a worker enters a bin or silo, certifying that the precautions listed above have been implemented.

Flighty Health Wonk Review and sundry other news blurbs

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Jaan Sidorov has an air travel themed Health Wonk Review posted over at Disease Management Care Blog, which he calls “frequent flyer miles for your brain.” There’s a roundup of assorted news on the health care policy front ranging from a post on the growth of MinuteClinics to a look at hospital quality surveys. Get your dose of the news from some of the brightest braniacs in the health policy blogosphere.
Here are a few other health-care related news items we noted in our travels: Katharine Van Tassel of HealthLawProfBlog posts the disturbing news revealed via a survey that 36% of responding physicians don’t believe in reporting impaired colleagues. And at Managed Care Matters, Joe Paduda talks about the results of a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll that demonstrates the power of mis-information: “Half of seniors (50%) say the [heathcare reform] law will cut benefits that were previously provided to all people on Medicare, and more than a third (36%) incorrectly believe the law will “allow a government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare.”
The Weekly Toll – If you haven’t visited in awhile, stop by The Weekly Toll to read about US workers who died on the job this past week. Many seasonal hazards are represented with a high toll of tractor and farming-related fatalities and construction-related deaths in this week’s grim list. And the list does not include the 8 employees of Hartford Distributors who were killed by a coworker.
Whistleblowers – Michael Fox of Jottings By An Employer’s Lawyer tell us that the difference between cloth and leather gloves is just over $1 million in his post about a Maine court’s ruling in favor of a whistleblower who was terminated after making complaints about safety and working conditions. Maine courts aren’t the only ones who are taking a dim view of retaliation against employees who report safety problems: at Today’s Workplace, Mike Hall posts that OSHA takes whistleblowers seriously and has established a website to offer a Whistleblower Protection Program.
Teen workers – Elizabeth Cooney writes about young employees who face injury or even death on the job in an article in the Boston Globe. Teens often are employed in some of the most dangerous jobs and have little in the way of training, as evidenced by the fact that the nonfatal injury rate for 15- to 17-year-olds in the United States was 5.2 per 100 full-time equivalent workers per year, double the rate for adults 25 and older. She discusses research from the state’s Teens at Work initiative, which revealed that of “208 teens under age 18 who had been injured at work from 2003 through 2007, about half said they had no safety training. About 15 percent said there was no supervisor on site when they were hurt. Almost a quarter said they had no work permit.”
Remarkable storyChrissy gets a new face from Work Comp Complex Care: “…her story of recovery is incredible on several levels – for the medical technology involved; for the reminder that dedicated health care professionals have the power to make a huge difference in a patient’s quality of life; and for the grace and attitude of the woman who suffered a devastating, life-changing injury and did not let it defeat her.”
Protecting football players – In Hitless or Witless?, Skip Rozin of discusses new NFL safeguards to protect football players from serious head injuries. Long overdue, and more is needed. The biggest hurdle will be overcoming the culture. As Rozin puts it “One of the biggest obstacles here is the athletes’ code of playing hurt.”
Nursing shifts – A new study from the University of Maryland-Baltimore reveals that long shifts pose health hazards for nurses – and may increase the risk to patients, as well. Study authors said that “the most common problems with an overemphasis on 12-hour shifts are needle-stick injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, drowsy driving, and other health breakdowns related to sleep deprivation.”
Legal briefs – In South Carolina, the court ruled that free living quarters offered as inducement for employment are considered wages. In a case involving horseplay, an Iowa court ruled in favor of a butt-shaking employee on appeal. A Washington court found that a fitness for duty test did not violate the ADA.
OSHA – Dwayne Towles of Advanced Safety Health News Blog warns employers that OSHA is scrutinizing safety incentive programs and may be asking for any written policies or details of any contests or promotions. They are looking for programs that might discourage employees from reporting injuries. Towles offers his thoughts for how to handle matters should OSHA come calling. And while on the topic of OSHA visits, SafetyNewsAlert offers additional suggestions in prepping for an inspection: top 10 dos and don’ts for OSHA inspections from 2 OSHA inspectors.

Two farmworking teens killed in silo; media is mystified

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

From Michigan, we learn the tragic news of the silo-related deaths of two teens on a farm. Victor Perez, 18, was a recent high school graduate who had worked on the farm for about 4 years. His co-worker Francisco Mendez Martinez, 17, had been on the job for about a month.
News reports are thin and shrouded in mystery. One refers to the fatalities as a “mishap” (talk about understatement) and quotes a local farmworker as saying that the teens “weren’t doing something particularly dangerous and they knew how to do it.” (Apparently wrong on both counts). Other stories portray this as “just a tragic accident” with authorities quoted as saying they might never be sure what happened because there were no witnesses.
We should really expect better reporting from media whose beat includes farm country. And if the news reports are correct, there is at least one other local farm worker who needs to be alerted to silo dangers and the quoted sheriff needs to take an EMT refresher course.
A cursory Google search on silo deaths will show that there’s nothing particularly mysterious about this “mishap” – unsupervised teen workers + confined space + silos + molasses storage – all should trigger red lights. The danger posed to teens of confined spaces in agriculture should be well known. Instead of breathless reporting about mysterious tragedies (see also “freak accidents“), media could do a huge service to local communities if they did a little research and used such horrific events as a springboard to educate people about a) safety for a high-risk group, teen workers and b) farm worker accident prevention.
The hazards associated with silos are well-recognized. One cited in this link might have been a description of the recent that killed the teens:

The typical scenario involves a worker entering an oxygen-deficient or toxic atmosphere and collapsing. Co-workers notice the collapsed worker and enter the same atmosphere and attempt a rescue; however, if they do not use proper precautions (respirators, ventilator fans, etc.), they also collapse.

Additional resources
Confined Space Hazards a Threat to Farmers
Dangerous Gases and Fires Can Make Silos Death Traps
Silo Gas Dangers
Silo Gas Dangers – from Farm Safety
Preventing Deaths of Farm Workers in Manure Pits
Confined Space Hazards
OSHA: Confined Space
Parental Alert: 2010’s Five Worst Teen Jobs

Parental alert: 2010’s Five Worst Teen Jobs

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

On this blog, we are usually speaking to employers or workers. Sometimes we are addressing people in the insurance industry – claims adjusters, safety professionals, insurance geeks, and the like. But today we have a different target audience: parents of teens who are about to embark on their first summer job.
Parents: please do not assume that your kids health and well being will be looked after while on the job – make it your business to dig deeper.
Every year, in some of the most pedestrian-sounding jobs, kids are maimed and killed while working. Who would think that a job in a doughnut shop could lead to a 17-year old drowning in an uncovered cesspool? Or that a summer job on a lawn care crew could result in a 14-year old being killed when pulled into a wood chipper? Some of the most compelling advocates for teen worker safety are teen survivors themselves: Candace Carnahan who lost her leg to a conveyor belt; Kristi Ruth, who lost an arm that was entangled in equipment while working at her family farm; and four kids who tell of their life-changing injuries at summer jobs in a series of powerful videos.
Most dangerous jobs for teens
Millions of teens will be looking to join the work force over the next few months, and with a teen unemployment rate hovering around 30%, there will be strong competition for positions – and some young workers may be tempted to take jobs that could endanger their health. The National Consumers League (NCL), which coordinates the Child Labor Coalition, has issued a report detailing 2010’s Five Worst Teen Jobs report to remind teens and parents to be alert and informed about the hidden dangers that many jobs hold.
2010’s Five Worst Teen Jobs

  • Traveling Youth Sales Crews
  • Construction and Height Work
  • Outside Helper: Landscaping, Groundskeeping and Lawn Service
  • Agriculture: Harvesting Crops
  • Driver/Operator: Forklifts, Tractors, and ATV’s

The article offers information and details about the potential risks and hazards for each of these job categories, as well as common risks that teens face at work. It also offers suggestions for parents on how to be involved in their teens job choices, and what to look for.
More tools for parents
Here are some additional resources to help you keep your teens safe at work:

  • Making sure your teen’s job is safe – great advice from the award-winning KidsHealth by Nemours, one of the largest nonprofit organizations devoted to children’s health. It includes a list of questions and discussion points to raise with your teen before he or she is hired, advice for checking out the job site, and how to sustain a discussion about work safety once your teen starts the job.
  • Tips for parents with working teens (PDF) – a brief fact sheet with advice from the California Resource Network for Young Workers’ Health and Safety
  • Working the Smart Shift: Helping parents help their teens avoid dangerous jobs – Safety guidelines from the Child Labor Coalition, along with a list of telephone numbers for state labor department resources.
  • Do you have a working teen? – advice and resources for parents from the Occupational Health & Safety Administration
  • State Labor Laws – The U.S. Department of Labor offers links to state Labor Departments and state resources

Other teen safety resources

Lost Youth: the stories of four teens injured at work

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

In a few weeks, millions of teens will be joining the work force, many for the first time. For most, nothing out of the ordinary will occur, but for about 70, their jobs will be lethal. About every three minutes, a teen is injured on the job. Worksafe BC has compiled the true stories of four ordinary kids whose first jobs proved devastating. In this series of short, compelling video clips, each teen tells the story of their injury, how it happened, and how it has affected their lives. The teens’ parents also talk about things from their perspective. The clips are graphic, frightening, and real, and demonstrate just how quickly something can go wrong. They should be mandatory viewing for employers who hire teens, for teen workers, and for parents of working teens.
John’s story – how 16-year old John Higgins broke his back in a forklift accident.
Jennifer’s story – how 19-year old Jennifer Fourchalk lost three fingers, which were caught in dough-making equipment in a pizzeria.
Michael’s story – how 18-year old Michael Lovett lost a leg when sucked into machinery in a sawmill.
Nick’s story(raw language alert) – how 19-year old Nick Perry became paralyzed when crushed by lumber in a lumberyard.
Some of the common themes in the stories:

  • Enthusiasm. These kids badly wanted to please and impress bosses and co-workers and to do a good job. The teens didn’t want to ask for help or to appear unwilling to do what was asked of them – they wanted to be mature and good work contributors.
  • Inexperience. The teens seemed unaware of the power of equipment they were using and the potential for injuries. Jennifer didn’t realize how powerful the kitchen equipment was. Michael seemed unaware that he could refuse to engage in unsafe behaviors, like jumping off dangerous equipment. They appear to assume that dangers were just an inevitable condition of the work.
  • Lack of training. None of these teens had been properly trained in the equipment they were using nor had they received basic safety practices and procedures, such as lock out/tag out. All of these injuries might have been prevented had the workers been trained and had machine safeguards been in place. John actually emulated unsafe practices he had observed other workers doing.
  • Working alone. In most of these examples, the teens were not being supervised when the injuries occurred.
  • Regretful parents. Parents assumed employers would look out for their kids. Several parents expressed initial misgivings about the jobs their kids had taken. Many expressed regret that they hadn’t looked into the work conditions more.

Resources for keeping teen workers safe
Tips for teens: Stay safe on the job
Employers: 10 tips to keep teen workers safe
Tips for parents: How safe are your favorite kids on their new jobs?