COLORADO CITY, Ariz. – On March 10, a 14-year-old boy from Colorado City, Ariz., was killed when he lost control of the forklift he was operating. St. George news first reported the accident on March 12 but few details were available at the time. One month later this is what we now know.
The incident occurred at approximately 5:55 p.m. on March 10, when the boy, who was driving the forklift for his father, lost control on a bridge crossing Short Creek Wash located just west of Colorado City near the feed lot, Mohave County Supervisor Burt Johnson said.
Because the forklift operator was a minor, the legality of him being asked to drive has come into question.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Web page on forklift operation, “It is a violation of Federal law for anyone under 18 years of age to operate a forklift or for anyone over 18 years of age who is not properly trained and certified to do so.”
Additionally, the United States Department of Labor’s Web page on youth provisions for the Fair Labor Standards Act cites 17 Hazardous Occupation Orders which prohibit children ages 15 and under from performing any of the orders.
Operation number 7, regarding the use of a power-driven hoisting apparatus, specifically bans: operating, riding on, and assisting in the operation of most power-driven hoisting apparatus such as forklifts.
While there are some exceptions for farm work – a child of any age can be engaged in farm work by a parent or guardian on a farm owned by said parent or gaurdian– a child 14 or under cannot engage in paid agricultural labor declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.
Several agencies have been purported to be investigating the accident including OSHA, the Arizona Attorney General’s office and the Arizona Department of Labor.
“All of them have called and made a request for information,” said Jeff Matura, legal representative for the town of Colorado City, “but nobody has confirmed that they are investigating.”
St. George News initially reported that a team from Arizona Child Protective Services was sent to investigate but when contacted they could neither confirm nor deny that report.
The Arizona Child Protective Services’ website published a list of all children who have died or nearly died as a result of abuse or neglect.
There is nothing listed for the deceased in this case.
The Colorado City Marshal’s Office has been identified as the lead agency in the incident. Their investigation has been finalized and it has been ruled an accident, said Matura.
- OSHA’s Web page on forklift regulations
- Youth Employment Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act for Nonagricultural Occupations
- Arizona Child Protective Services
- 14-year-old boy dies operating forklift in Colorado City
- On the EDge: Child’s death a tragic reminder of weak labor laws
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