Wisconsin Sawmill Adheres to Child Labor Laws After Teen Worker

Wisconsin Sawmill Adheres to Child Labor Laws After Teen Worker's Death

The company settled with $190,696 in penalties.

Florence Hardwoods LLC—a sawmill operator based in Florence, Wisconsin—has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) following the death of a 16-year-old employee.

In a release dated September 7, the DOL announced it has secured a federal consent order against Florence Hardwoods, and the company agreed to comply with federal child labor laws. The order follows an incident in June 2023 in which a teen worker suffered fatal injuries, leading the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division to launch an investigation into Florence Hardwoods.

In addition to adhering to child labor regulations now and in the future, the order requires the company to pay $190,696 in penalties. It will prominently display labels and signs barring minors from using dangerous machinery or even entering the company’s sawmill and planer buildings. It has also agreed not to hire workers under the age of 16 and inform the DOL before hiring any minors.

“This tragic case illustrates just how vital and urgent it is that the Department of Labor uses every tool at our disposal to combat child labor,” Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su said in a statement. “Any death of a child is too many. That’s why our Wage and Hour Division and Solicitor’s Office took immediate steps to prevent the sale of ‘hot goods’ and to hold the company accountable for allowing children to perform hazardous and, in this case, deadly jobs. Illegal child labor is a stain on this country and will not be tolerated by this administration or this department.”

This investigation also uncovered revealed the company had employed nine underage children to illegally operate hazardous machinery and seven 14- and 15-year-olds to work outside legal hours. Three workers ages 15 and 16 sustained injuries between November 2021 and March 2023, with one injured twice. Following the worker’s death, the company promptly terminated all employees under the age of 18.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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