Poll Shows Nationwide Opposition to Trump DOL Proposal to Roll Back Child Labor Protections in Nursing Homes

Washington, DC—In a damaging blow to a Trump administration effort to roll back child labor protections, national polling results released today reveal broad and deep opposition to a Labor Department proposal to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to operate powered patient-lifting devices in nursing homes by themselves and without adult supervision.

Fully 78 percent of the 1,004 respondents surveyed opposed the proposal, with 54 percent strongly opposed and only 8 percent strongly supportive of eliminating the required adult assistance and supervision.

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“There’s a reason why the law requires adult supervision while operating these powered lifts. It’s to protect the young teen workers as well as the elderly patients, for whom a fall or accident could be catastrophic,” said Debbie Berkowitz, program director for worker safety and health with the National Employment Law Project, which commissioned the survey. “Lifting frail patients who cannot move themselves is one of the most hazardous tasks in nursing homes. Leaving that task to the most inexperienced workers without adult assistance and supervision makes no sense and just invites tragedy.”

Overwhelming majorities of respondents across demographic groups and in every region of the country opposed rolling back the protections. Opposition was united across party lines also, with 77 percent of independents and 69 percent of Republicans joining 87 percent of Democrats in opposing the proposed rule change. Opposition was consistent in states that went for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections, with 78 percent of respondents opposing the rollback.

Respondents also overwhelmingly agreed that both workers and patients would be at greater risk should this proposal be implemented, and rejected the Labor Department’s claim that rolling back the protections would increase employment opportunities for young teens.

“The attempt to roll back these child labor protections, which are grounded in expert scientific recommendations by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, shows yet again who the Trump Labor Department is really working for—corporations and industry interests,” said Berkowitz. “This poll is proof positive that if the Labor Department were true to its mission to advance the welfare of workers, it would withdraw this proposal and instead work to codify the current common-sense safety rules that require young teens to work with and be supervised by an adult worker when using these powered lifting devices.”

The survey was conducted online from November 29 to December 2 by Hart Research Associates on behalf of the National Employment Law Project, with a margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points.

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