Reporter: Safety groups urge banning teenagers from construction

The Labor Department released a report in late July urging the government to revise its 60-year-old list of jobs barred to teenagers to include several more fields, including construction.

Federal laws already prohibit anyone younger than 16 from working in construction, and roofing, excavation and demolition are illegal activities for workers younger than 18. But the study the Labor Department commissioned from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health asks the government to ban those younger than 18 from all construction work.

“The recommendations, if implemented, will save lives,” says Darlene Adkins, coordinator of the Child Labor Coalition. “Many teens are working in unsafe conditions without the proper training or supervision.”

According to NIOSH, 231,000 U.S. workers younger than 18 are injured on the job each year, and 73 employees younger than 18 die from work-related injuries annually. The injury rate for teenagers is almost twice that for adults.

The National Consumers League lists construction as one of its five worst teen jobs for 2002. Construction ranks third among occupations in which youth younger than 18 are killed, according to the group.

The Consumers League supports allowing teens to learn the construction trade through school-sponsored apprenticeships and student learner programs.