Vancouver contractor fined for child labor law violations after teen mangled on job site

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A Vancouver, Washington construction contractor is being fined for child labor law violations, after a teenage worker lost his legs on a job site last year.

Rotschy, Inc. was fined $156,259 after a 16-year-old employee was dragged under the blades of a walk-behind trencher. The injuries were so severe that he lost both of his legs, according to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

Officials learned the boy had no training or experience.

“There are some jobs that state law says minor workers just can’t do, for their own safety,” said Bryan Templeton, manager of L&I’s Employment Standards Program. “But the law can only prevent tragic injuries like this when they’re followed. Rotschy knew the rules, but still put seven different teenage workers in harm’s way nearly three dozen times.”

A further investigation from L&I revealed this was just the tip of the iceberg of child labor law violations at Rotschy, Inc. The company has since been hit with $51,800 in additional fines.

The agency determined that Rotschy allowed seven other minors to operate heavy equipment or work close to them on 35 separate occasions. Some of the young employees were also denied mandatory meal breaks 45 times, and more than 150 times, some minors were worked more hours during a school day than is allowed under state law.

L&I says in one instance, a teenager’s work day started before 5:00 a.m.

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The agency alleges “willful serious” violations of workplace safety and health. Rotschy was last cited on Feb. 22, and paid their fines on March 12. L&I says they are appealing the safety and health citation.

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