Hazardous child labour
Almost 250 million children (almost 1 in 6) are involved in child labour. About 111 million children under 15 are in hazardous work. Most child labour can be found in rural areas, particularly in agriculture, but children work in almost every sector of the economy, even in sectors considered as extremely hazardous like mining, construction and fishing. What makes child labour hazardous is the presence of hazards and risks at the workplace (such as the presence of chemicals, noise, ergonomic risks like lifting heavy loads etc) and working conditions (long hours, nightwork, harassment).
It depends completely on the circumstances, tasks and activities carried out if this work is hazardous for the child or not. We can assume that what is hazardous for adults will also be hazardous for children. However, children are more vulnerable since they are in physical and mental development. Children are often “achievers”, they want to perform well and are inexperienced and untrained in dealing with hazards. Tools and machines are not made for them, and thus pose more hazards. They are also not organized and powerless. All those factors contribute to the fact that the same task carried out by children can be more hazardous for children than for adults. The effects of hazardous child labour vary from skin disease to asthma to (in the worst case) fatal injuries. Not only physical, but also mental and behavioural problems can be the result of hazardous child labour.
In May 2002, the ILO issued a global report on child labour that describes the extent of the problem.
Link to GOHNET
- - The Global Occupational Health Network - GOHNET Newsletter Issue 9 Summer 2005 on Child Labour & Adolescent Workers