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Ohio company fined $43K after teen worker loses hand

Most parents agree that letting teenagers have a part-time or summer job teaches them about financial independence, working with other people, and personal responsibility. State law allows people under 18 to work a variety of jobs, many of them physically taxing, but there are limits to what teenagers are allowed to do.

For instance, as the Cleveland area director of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently pointed out, workers under 18 are not supposed to operate power-driven woodworking machinery. This is because using these types of machines carries a real risk of serious injury. Without the proper training and safety equipment, the risk is even greater.

Unfortunately, an Ohio business ignored the law and allowed a 14-year-old boy to operate a wood planer back in March. There was an accident and the teen lost his hand.

OSHA investigated and, earlier in July, cited the teen’s employer, Shady Knob Pallet Co., for 17 serious violations. The citations included failure to train worksite staff to provide first aid, failure to provide personal protective equipment, and failure to store flammable liquids correctly. OSHA has proposed $43,200 in fines based on these citations.

Rules promulgated by state and federal regulators are meant to protect workers of all ages from injury on the job, to the extent that is reasonably possible. But no OSHA regulations can guarantee that nobody in Ohio will suffer a work injury, no matter what kind of work they do. As a financial safety net, injured workers can receive workers’ compensation while they recover.

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