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Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Page for Kids

MSHA 's Page for Kids

The Dirty Boys

Breaker Boys...

Breaker Boys circa 1900

There he found "breaker boys" at their exhausting work. Work in the coal breakers is exceedingly hard and dangerous.

Crouched over the chutes, the boys sit hour after hour picking out the pieces of slate and other refuse from the coal as it rushes past to the washers.

From the cramped position they have to assume, most of them become more or less deformed and bent-backed like old men.

When a boy has been working for some time and begins to get round-shouldered, his fellows say that 'He's got his boy to carry round wherever he goes!

The coal is hard, and accidents to the hands, such as cut, broken, or crushed fingers, are common among the boys.

Sometimes there is a worse accident: a terrified shriek is heard, and a boy is mangled and torn in the machinery, or disappears in the chute to be picked out later smothered and dead.

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