Workplace safety officials are currently investigating the death of a 16-year-old boy who sustained injuries at a sawmill in Wisconsin.

The teenager, Michael Schuls, passed away on Saturday at a pediatric hospital in Milwaukee, two days after authorities responded to a call regarding an unresponsive teenager at Florence Hardwoods, as confirmed by Chief Deputy Teresa Chrisman of the Florence County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday.

His death coincides with the introduction of legislation in several states, including Wisconsin, that seeks to allow children to work in more hazardous occupations and for longer hours on school nights. These expanded roles even include serving alcohol in bars and restaurants from as young as 14.

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The sheriff’s office released a statement mentioning that the teenager’s death occurred as a result of an “industrial accident.” However, Chief Deputy Teresa Chrisman clarified on Thursday that the cause of Schuls’ death and specific details of his injuries are being withheld due to the ongoing investigation.

An autopsy was conducted on Thursday morning by Florence County Coroner Jeff Rickaby. However, it will likely take several weeks to determine the cause of Schuls’ death as further laboratory results and information are still pending.

Wisconsin Fox News graphic

The death of a 16-year-old boy at a northern Wisconsin sawmill is under investigation.

A GoFundMe account has been created for Schuls’ family, stating that he was “working at Florence Hardwoods when a horrible tragedy occurred.” According to the account’s creators, the teenager was on life support before his passing.

“Our small community is in complete shock,” the post mentions.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently conducting an investigation and has referred the case to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to look into possible child labor violations involving hazardous occupations, as stated by Scott Allen, the Labor Department’s regional director for public affairs, during an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio.

Florence Hardwoods, located in the town of Florence near the border with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, has declined to comment on the boy’s death as the investigation is ongoing, according to Jordan Davis, the company office manager.

In Wisconsin, minors are prohibited from working in all logging-related occupations, including those involving sawmill operations, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

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The state’s labor standards dictate that individuals under 18 are not allowed to enter sawmill buildings and are also restricted from activities such as felling trees, cutting fallen trees, collecting or moving logs, and using chainsaws, among other tasks.

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