Mass. child work law citations dropAP , Associated Press
Apr. 29, 2013 1:10 PM ET
BOSTON (AP) — The state has issued more than 3,500 citations for violations of child labor laws since 2007, but the number has been dropping off in recent years, leading to concerns that state enforcement efforts have relaxed.
The citations have resulted in about $314,000 in civil fines since the state tightened child labor laws in response to several on-the-job deaths of teenagers.
But the number of citations has fallen off in recent years after the state attorney general's office eliminated five of 19 inspector positions from its fair labor division. Last year, the office reported a record-low 199 infractions.
The lower number of citations is the result of tougher enforcement, heightened public awareness, better compliance and a reduced number of teenagers in the workforce, according to Brad Puffer, a spokesman for Attorney General Martha Coakley. Jobs traditionally held by teenagers were held by adults during the recession, he noted.
But Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, told The Boston Globe (http://bo.st/ZYwwPB ) she's concerned fewer spot checks are the reason for the large drop in the number of infractions.
"There is a lot more that needs to be done. We are still seeing hospitalizations of youths on the job," Goldstein-Gelb said. "There are still vulnerable minors who are afraid to speak up about working conditions."
Violators include not just small companies, but large companies and national chains.
Some of the more common infractions are allowing 16-year-old youths to work more than nine hours straight or more than 48 hours per week; allowing them to work heavy equipment; or working late without adult supervision.
Companies that violate child labor laws face fines of $250 for the first violation, as much as $500 for the second, and a maximum of $2,500 for the third and each subsequent offense.
Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.boston.com/globe