Industries and work-related injuries

28th May 2004 at 01:00
Children in developing nations produce all sorts of goods for export abroad. This month alone Adidas stopped using two of its suppliers because they used child labour. In India children have been associated with mining mica, used in glittery cosmetics, and everything from toys to footballs have, at some time, come under the spotlight. However, most children working illegally do so producing agricultural crops or, if they are girls, in domestic service.

The following activities rely heavily on child labour and expose young workers to these risks and hazards: Cotton cultivation

Musculoskeletal injuries, poisoning due to pesticide use, skin irritation, high levels of sun exposure. (International Labour Organisation) Palm oil

Falling from trees during harvesting, skin abrasions, eye damage from falling palm fronds, pesticide poisoning, snake and insect bites (fire caterpillars are a major oil palm pest). (ILO)


Injuries from cutting tools or stress injuries due to bending, lifting or carrying out repetitive actions. (ILO)

Sugar cane

Machete injuries, respiratory problems from inhaling smoke during pre-harvest field burning, long working hours and stress. (ILO)

Domestic labour

Mistreatment can include verbal and physical abuse and sexual abuse.

Domestic servants get an inadequate diet and are sometimes forced to sleep on the floor. They rise before the family and continue working after they go to sleep. According to Jonathan Blagbrough of Anti-Slavery International, one of the most telling indications of the impoverishment that comes from childhood labour arose in conversations with Indonesian child domestic labourers concerning their future aspirations. "They said nothing," he explains. "Their experiences had undermined their self-esteem to such an extent that they could not contemplate a life other than as a domestic worker."

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