Gaynor, J.s.c. (temporarily assigned).
This motion by defendant Laneco, Inc. for summary judgment dismissing the seventh count of the complaint presents a new question involving the construction of N.J.S.A. 34:2-21.17 and its applicability to a work-related injury suffered by a minor.
In this action recovery is sought on behalf of the infant plaintiff for injuries allegedly sustained while operating a cardboard box baling machine in the course of his employment by Laneco, Inc. Plaintiff was then 17 years of age. It is alleged that the accident occurred as plaintiff attempted to remove a piece of material from the machine during its cycle of operation. In addition to allegations of negligence, the complaint includes in the seventh count a demand for
recovery against the employer based upon an asserted violation of N.J.S.A. 34:2-21.17, the pertinent portions of which are as follows:
No minor under 16 years of age shall be employed, permitted or suffered to work in, about, or in connection with power-driven machinery.
No minor under 18 years of age shall be employed, permitted or suffered to work in, about, or in connection with the following:
oiling, wiping, or cleaning machinery in motion or assisting therein;
punch presses or stamping machines if the clearance between the ram and the dye or the stripper exceeds 1/4 inch;
cutting machines having a guillotine action;
corrugating, crimping or embossing machines;
No minor under 18 years of age shall be employed, permitted, or suffered to work in any place of employment, or at any occupation hazardous or injurious to the life, health, safety, or welfare of such minor, as such occupation shall, from time to time, be determined and declared by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to be hazardous or injurious to the life, health, safety, or welfare of such minors, after a public hearing thereon and after such notice as the commissioner may by regulation prescribe.
It is the movant's position that a recovery cannot be founded upon a statutory violation as the machine or the operation allegedly causing the injuries to the minor plaintiff is not specifically listed in the statute. In furtherance of this position, it is argued that the statute is clear and unambiguous and therefore may not be the subject of judicial interpretation. Further, that as the statute does not contain a provision prohibiting 18-year old employees from operating all power equipment, as it does for 16-year ...