Marc S. Dorman
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Kids face child injury risk at Maryland midways

Your children love spending time at the state fair or local carnival when it comes to town. But could they be risking significant personal injury because of an unexpected factor? Experts in Maryland and other states say that although these attractions may seem enticing to families, you may want to think twice before jumping on that roller coaster or other traveling novelty.

The reason: Seasonal workers who operate many of the carnival rides are often subject to long shifts under less-than-ideal conditions. Further, health and safety inspectors may not catch some of the concerns that arise when overly tired workers operate heavy machinery. In one instance, a teen in nearby Virginia suffered a child injury after a fatigued carnival operator released two roller coaster carts onto the same track at the same time. The first cart had come to an abrupt stop, but the operator did not identify the problem and allowed a second cart onto the track, anyway. The girl remembers bracing for impact in the terrifying wreck.

Tragically, oversight of these migrant workers tends to fall between the cracks, with seasonal employees often failing to receive overtime or even minimum wage. In some cases, companies rely heavily on work visas that are used to keep the costs of labor at a minimum. Fair Labor Standards Act provisions do not protect those workers from unfair overtime and other general abuse.

As a result, many young Maryland residents may suffer brain injury, broken bones and other injuries in accidents that occur on their local midway. Family members of those victims may be entitled to financial compensation for the cost of long-term care related to these serious injuries. Children should not have to worry about the risk of disabilities as they enjoy their summertime activities.

Source: NBC News, “Risky Rides: Carnival Workers’ Grueling Hours May Threaten Safety” John Carlos Frey, Aug. 24, 2014