WAVELAND -- The U.S. Department of Labor has found S & H Pallet Industries in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act's child labor provisions after a 17-year-old worker's arm was severed in an accident at the Waveland-based wood pallets manufacturing plant.
An investigation revealed that the company employed six minors, including an 11-year-old, in violation of federal law.
The southwestern Montgomery County firm has filed a timely exception to the civil money penalty assessment and requested a hearing before an administrative law judge.
Civil money penalties assessed to S & H Pallet Industries total $82,514.
"Employers who hire our nation's youth must comply with federal and state regulations intended to keep children safe in the workplace," said Patricia Lewis, director of the Wage and Hour Division's Indianapolis District Office. "The severe injury suffered by this 17-year-old boy is a tragic reminder of what can happen when children are permitted to operate hazardous equipment in violation of the law."
The 17-year-old was operating a power-driven wood pallet notcher when his glove became caught in the machine, which severed his right arm above the elbow.
Acting upon information received by the Indiana Department of Labor, the Wage and Hour Division conducted an investigation of the company's employment practices, which determined that all six minors employed at the plant were regularly permitted to perform prohibited hazardous tasks, such as operating power-driven band saws, circular saws, nail guns and other power-driven woodworking machines.
The FLSA establishes a minimum age of 18 for workers in nonagricultural occupations that the secretary of labor declares particularly hazardous or detrimental to their health or well-being.
The Waveland company specifically has been cited for allowing minors to operate woodworking machinery. It also has been cited for allowing employees under 16 to work in manufacturing occupations, employing a minor under the legal age for employment and failing to maintain date of birth records for minor employees.