U.S. Dept. of Labor obtained a federal consent order and judgment against a Northern sawmill operator following the death of a child due to an “industrial accident.” The order requires the company to place labels and signage to prevent children under age 18 from using dangerous equipment and entering the company’s sawmill and planer buildings. The company has agreed not to hire anyone under the age of 16 and if the company hires anyone between the ages of 16 and 18 in the future, the company must strictly comply with the requirements for apprentices or student learners and inform the department before hiring them.
The action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division into a 16-year-old worker’s death at the sawmill, which led to the department invoking the “hot goods” provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The division opened the investigation after the teenager suffered severe injuries in June and died two days later.
In September, in a U.S. District Court, the company agreed to, and was ordered by the court, to comply with, federal child labor regulations now and in the future.
“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,” said Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su. “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.”
In February the department announced the creation of an Interagency Task Force to Combat Child Labor Exploitation to better align federal efforts to protect children from exploitative situations in the workplace. Led by the department, the task force includes the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice and State to improve cross-training, outreach, education and health outcomes of children that could be subject to child labor. The administration is using a whole-of-government approach to tackle the issue of child labor abuse and root it out of the country.
In addition to learning of the 16-year-old worker’s death, the division’s investigation found the following:
—Three children, ages 15 to 16, suffered injuries in November 2021, July 2022 and March 2023. One child suffered injuries on two separate occasions.
—The mill company employed nine children, ages 14 to 17, to illegally operate machinery, such as a chop saw, rip saw and other automated machines, which federal law considers hazardous occupations for workers under 18.
—The company employed seven children, ages 14 and 15 years old, to work outside legally permitted hours.
“(The company) risked the life of a child by allowing him to operate dangerous equipment in violation of federal child labor laws, and now family, friends and co-workers are left to grieve,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “The Solicitor’s office will use all legal tools available to combat child labor, including placing pressure on supply chains to hold their suppliers accountable.
“This case underscores the importance and urgency of the administration’s interagency work to combat child labor exploitation. The department’s use of legal tactics in this and other cases like invoking hot goods is one important piece of the puzzle when it comes to rooting out child labor.”
The Fair Labor Standards Act forbids any producer, manufacturer or dealer from shipping or delivering for shipment in interstate commerce hot goods removed from the producing establishment in the 30 days after a child labor violation. Prohibition on shipping hot goods is not limited to employers who initially produce products with child labor. Rather it also applies to any producer, manufacturer or dealer who later receives them.
During its investigation, the division also alerted two of the sawmill’s customers that they possessed goods subject to the hot goods provision. Both customers agreed voluntarily to refrain from shipping or delivering for shipment in interstate commerce the hot goods they received until the legal matter was resolved.
The day after the teen’s death, the mill company terminated all employees under age 18 at its facility, and later verified to the court that no one under the age of 18 is now employed by the company. After the company agreed to pay $190,696 in civil money penalties to resolve its child labor violations and the court executed the order and judgment, the department lifted its objection to shipment of the goods.
In accepting the court’s judgment, the mill company also agreed to the following conditions to prevent future violations of the FLSA’s child labor provisions:
—Placing signage to warn children not to enter the sawmill and planer buildings at its locations.
—Using the division’s Youth Employment Compliance Assistance Toolkit to identify materials for use in training employees, provided in a language understood by workers, and maintaining training logs.
—Auditing machinery and labeling machines with stickers warning that workers must be 18 years of age or older to operate legally.
—Providing employees with fact sheets on child labor.
In fiscal year 2022, division investigators identified child labor violations in 835 cases and assessed employers with more than $4.3 million in penalties.
Roseburg announced that Tony Ramm has been named Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Labor, overseeing the company’s human resources, benefits and compensation, recruitment, and environmental health and safety teams.
Article by Jessica Johnson, Senior Editor, Timber Processing January/February 2024
Some of the smartest men and women in the industry have graced the pages of this magazine—and have won the award of Timber Processing Person of the Year. They’ve all been incredibly worthy of this recognition for innovation, commitment and love of the industry they serve. Perhaps none have been quite as innovative as the introverted sawmiller from Georgia named Levi Anderson Pollard, V, whose name is on two of the patents that changed the way the sawmilling world manufactures and dries lumber (and on so many other patents as well).
Walter Jarck, whose career in the forest products industry spanned 65 years and ranged from logging machinery to engineered wood products, died January 3, surrounded by his children, in North Wilkesboro, NC. He was 92.
Carbotech Group has acquired Sawquip, a manufacturing company specializing in the design and manufacture of sawmill equipment for the primary and secondary breakdown of logs into lumber. This acquisition allows Carbotech Group to add on a new field of expertise, providing customers with innovative new solutions for lumber production. Sawquip’s innovative products include log turners and optimized log infeeds, chipping canters, twin and quad circular saw modules, as well as optimized gangs for controlled shape sawing, among others.
Rob Freres, president of Oregon-based Freres Engineered Wood, a manufacturer of lumber, veneer, plywood and mass timber, has thrown in his support for a lawsuit filed by the Oregon Trucking Assn. and three Oregon-based trucking companies against the state of Oregon for overcharging truckers under the weight-mile tax.
Austria-based Hasslacher group is acquiring a stake in Element5, a mass timber producer specializing in the design, manufacture and assembly of modern engineered timber buildings. Based near Toronto, Can., Element5 employs more than 100 and produces cross-laminated timber and glued laminated timber for the North American market.
Atlas Holdings has entered into an agreement to sell RedBuilt, LLC to Hampton Lumber Mills, Inc. Atlas formed RedBuilt with the acquisition of the commercial division of Trus Joist from Weyerhaeuser Co. in 2009. Over the next 14 years, the company became an industry leader in the engineering, design and manufacturing of proprietary wood-based structural solutions serving the low-rise commercial construction market. The transaction is anticipated to close in the first quarter of 2024.
Registration is now available for the 2024 Western Wood Producers Assn. (WWPA) Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held at the Hotel Indigo in Vancouver, Wash., April 14-16. To register for the event visit, https://www.wwpa.org/about-wwpa/annual-meeting. To take advantage of the group rate, visit the Hotel Indigo website, and use group code WWP. The deadline for the group rate is March 14, or until the room block is sold out…
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