The safety of workers in the agricultural industry

California one of the top agricultural states in the country, which makes agricultural safety a concern for many of its residents. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s agricultural safety and health program funds research on injuries and illnesses associated with agriculture, and it funds and supports prevention programs.

Nearly 2 million people work full time in agricultural production in the United States. In 2012, nearly 500,000 people under the age of 20 worked on farms on which they resided. In addition, 259,000 youths were employed as farm workers. In 2012, 14,000 youths were injured on U.S. farms. In an average year, 113 farm workers under the age of 20 die from work-related injuries. Most of these deaths involve machinery, including tractors, drowning, and motor vehicles.

In 2012, 374 farm workers died from work-related injuries. Tractor overturn is the leading cause of death of farm workers. The best protection against tractor overturn fatalities is the use of rollover protective structures on tractors. In 2012, only 59 percent of tractors on farms in the United States were equipped with ROPS.

Injuries that cause lost work time happen to about 167 American farm workers each day, and 5 percent of these injuries cause a permanent impairment. Agricultural is ranked as one of the most hazardous industries in the country.

Typically, employers are required to provide workers’ compensation for all of their employees. However, simply having workers’ compensation does not guarantee payment of benefits when a claim is filed. Employers and some insurance companies may fight workers’ compensation claims. An injured worker could hire an attorney to represent them in court and help them to win their case that seeks compensation for their work-related injury.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Agriculture Safety”, December 08, 2014

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