NH town's violation of child labor laws leaves teens without job for summer
NORTHWOOD — Multiple teenagers are left without a job this summer after one town violated child labor laws.
The town of Northwood hired five 15-year-olds — three boys and two girls — to lifeguard at the town's three public beaches, the New Hampshire Department of Labor inspector's report reads.
Mary Waldron Beach, Bennett's Bridge Beach and Northwood Lake Beach are open to residents from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
However, the United States Department of Labor states that, "Youth under 16 years of age may not be employed as lifeguards at natural environment facilities such as rivers, steams, lakes, ponds, quarries, reservoirs, wharfs, piers, or oceanside beaches." Properly certified 15-year-olds may only work as lifeguards at traditional swimming pools and water amusement parks.
The five teenagers combined worked a total of 31 days, with two teens working eight days each, according to the inspector's report.
"Beaches are a much more challenging assignment that requires a higher level of maturity," said Chris Brewster, liaison for the United States Lifesaving Association.
More dangers can be posed at a beach than in a pool, including the inability to see the bottom and not having a controlled body of water, therefore these different circumstances require someone who is older and more responsible, Brewster added.
For this violation, Northwood could face civil money penalties, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Rudolph Ogden, attorney for the New Hampshire Department of Labor, said the department conducted an inspection last Friday and found that the town had used underage lifeguards for a number of days on the public beaches. No penalties have been issued yet. If the department does issue a fine to the town, then the town can seek a resolution with the department, Ogden said.
The town continues to operate all three beaches.
Northwood Recreation Director Sharon DeLuca believed two of the beaches had lifeguards on duty Wednesday but would not comment further.
According to the town's website, the recreation department staffs the beaches with lifeguards "as scheduling permits."
"Lifeguards may not be present during all hours that the beaches are open. Upon arrival at the beach, take note of the signs posted indicating lifeguard status," the site states.
Town Administrator Joseph Gunter said he had no comment.