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Maine Department of Labor sees rise in child labor violations and injuries

Maine's Department of Labor says it's seeing a troubling rise in the number of child labor violations and workplace injuries among young workers.

The violations include number of hours worked, timely and full payment of wages, and working in hazardous occupations. That's resulted in workplace injuries among minors, which have doubled in Maine over the past decade from roughly 160 a year to 325.

The DOL recently completed three investigations into injuries last summer. In one instance, a minor was injured while operating a meat slicer at the Arby's in Presque Isle. in another, a minor driving a truck for TD Logging in Fort Kent got into an accident and was injured. And a minor working at Maloy's Yard Care in Lisbon Falls had an index finger amputated after operating a wood splitter.

The director of the Maine Bureau of Labor Standards, Mike Roland, says the increase in injuries is likely linked to the increase in young workers being hired. Applications for work permits for minors have jumped 75% over the past five years.

"I think it's fair to surmise that it's a result of the labor shortage that we're experiencing," he says. "So employers are looking to employ groups that they may not have looked to employ in the past, and that may include children."

Roland says most workplace violations are due to a lack of awareness. He encourages employers to visit Maine's Department of Labor websiteto make sure they're in compliance with labor laws for minors.