"There are lots of kids being asked to do work that's been prohibited for them -- and it's been prohibited because it's dangerous," Carol Runyan at the University of North Carolina told the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer.
"Our system is failing them," she said.
On average, a juvenile is killed every 10 days from work-related accidents, the Observer reported.
At the same time, federal investigations into child labor violations in agriculture -- the sector that includes the fewest restrictions -- has fallen from 142 in 1999 to 28 in 2006, the Observer said.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has sought tighter restrictions, but no action has yet been taken on the recommendations, the newspaper said.
Juveniles have been reported working with power saws in meat packing plants. Children as young as 6 have been observed doing field work in 100 degree heat, the newspaper said.
"Much more ... must be done to better protect our young people from ... dangers they confront in the workplace," said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League.