Workers' compensation is required in Illinois for a variety of businesses and companies to provide financial support for workers in the event that they ever become injured on the job. However, one of the most valuable uses for workers' compensation is to protect Illinois children who are working a summer job. These benefits can help young injured workers receive the medical attention they need, as well as any additional financial support needed.
In the past, the U.S. Labor Department has tried to stop child labor in agricultural settings with little success.
In attempts to shape the agricultural workforces, paid farm workers needed to be 16 years old to use power equipment and 18 years old to work at grain elevators, silos and feedlots. However, this proposal was shot down since it would limit the work children could do on their relatives' and neighbors' farms. Many Illinois residents believe that children can help out in the farms and frequently train their children at very young ages to help out with the various tasks and chores on the farm.
At the same time, many argue that not enough is being done to address the inherent dangers of children working on farms. They insist that action must be taken to protect the safety of children working on farms.
Unfortunately, accidents can and do happen, even with intensive training. While agriculture-related injuries for workers younger than 20 years of age have dropped by nearly half in the years between 2001 and 2009, injuries among the young workers are still common, with the majority of the injuries occurring for those between the ages of 10 and 15. Furthermore, young workers employed on farms are four times more likely to become injured than similarly aged workers in all other industries combined.
Farm work can be dangerous, as most farmers will attest to. However, many parents would not pass up the opportunity to allow their children to learn a lesson about the value of hard work. In the meantime, workers' compensation can be an essential tool to protect young workers as they start their first job, and may also give parents peace of mind. At the same time, employers must do all they can to protect young workers, who are particularly susceptible to workplace injuries.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Parents Defend Child Farm Labor: 'There's Always A Risk In Life'," Jim Suhr, July 10, 2012