To describe the working conditions of adolescents employed in construction in North Carolina, documenting hazards, safety practices, and prohibited activities.
A cross-sectional telephone survey.
Adolescents (aged <18 years) with work permits for the construction industry in North Carolina during summer 2001.
Main Outcome Measures
Types of jobs, work tasks, supervisory conditions, tools, equipment, and processes.
A total of 187 survey respondents were in this study. Adolescents were employed in varied construction settings and business types. Nineteen of the 187 permitted workers were younger than 16 years, despite prohibitions against their employment in construction unless working for their parents. The remainder (n = 168) were working legally based on age, but most performed prohibited tasks. In fact, 84% of all the 16- to 17-year-olds had performed at least 1 clearly prohibited task and 47% had performed 3 or more. Although most reported being supervised and working with others, approximately 19% of all respondents reported working where they were not in hearing distance of other workers. Data were collected from teenagers with work permits, suggesting that these adolescents may work for more responsible employers. If violations of child labor laws exist in this group, it is likely that adolescents without permits are exposed to even greater hazards and violations.
Involvement of teenagers in dangerous and/or prohibited tasks is cause for concern and suggests a pressing need to examine the enforcement of existing laws and the need for additional protection.