Agricultural work is vital to the livelihood of America. The country quite literally cannot function without harvesting crops such as:
Unfortunately, this type of work is very dangerous and can lead to injuries and fatalities. Farmworkers are at particularly high risk of the following:
#1 - Accidents involving tractors.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “Tractor overturns are the leading cause of fatalities in the agriculture industry, resulting in approximately 130 deaths per year.”
When tractor overturns occur, they usually happen when they turn on their side or tip over backward. Unfortunately, tractor overturns can happen suddenly and without warning, which leaves the worker little or no opportunity to get to safety as the tractor tips or rolls.
Tractors are very safe when operated properly. However, a tractor may also be unsafe for use when it is in poor condition or does not have the proper safety guards and devices.
#2 - Extended contact with airborne toxicants, causing lung-related diseases.
New chemical and mechanical dangers have been introduced to the workforce as a result of:
- Industrialized farming,
- Animal raising, and
Farmworkers can develop lung disease when they are continuously exposed to toxicants such as:
- Various types of organic dusts,
- Chemicals, and
- Hazardous gases.
Those who work in the agricultural industry may develop nonspecific symptoms of respiratory irritation in addition to a slew of other conditions, including:
- Occupational asthma,
- Occupational bronchitis,
- Organic dust toxic syndrome,
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis,
- Silo filler’s disease (toxic hemorrhagic pulmonary edema), or
- Neuromuscular respiratory failure.
#3 - Prolonged exposure to high volumes, causing noise-induced hearing loss.
Sadly, agricultural workers are often exposed to extreme noise at sporadic intervals from a number of sources. Some of the most important risk factors include:
- Operating tractors without cabs
- Working with metal
According to some studies, “Reported compliance with hearing protection was higher than that actually observed.” In other words, employers report that they are following the rules to keep their workers safe from hearing loss, but when observed in the field, the results told a different story.
Most farmworkers are at moderate risk of hearing loss, but some are at high risk.
#4 - Continued subjection to outdoor environmental conditions, causing skin diseases.
High levels of solar radiation and continued subjection to irritating chemicals and plants can cause skin diseases. Unfortunately, skin diseases are seen often among farmworkers.
When studied based on the following five categories, each classification has been identified at various levels throughout the entire harvest season:
- Inflammatory disease (57.2%)
- Contact dermatitis
- Infection (73.8%)
- Tinea pedis
- Pigmentary disorder (19.1%)
- Trauma (34.5%)
While the risk of inflammatory skin disease tends to go down with age, the risk of infectious skin disease goes up with age. When workers are exposed to pesticides and are forced into poor housing conditions, the chances of developing inflammatory skin disease go up.
#5 - Extended exposure to cancer-causing environments.
Unfortunately, agricultural workers are often exposed to cancer-causing environments on a daily basis, including:
- Excessive sunlight,
- Dangerous equipment,
- Dust, and
Farmworkers are at a higher risk of developing the following cancers as a result of occupational hazards:
- Prostate cancer,
- Brain cancer,
- Cervical cancer, and
- Stomach cancer.
We’re Here to Help the Injured
If you are an agricultural worker and you’ve been injured as a result of job-related hazards, it’s important that you recover the compensation you need to take care of yourself and your family. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our office right away—we want to help you understand your rights.
Contact Rancaño & Rancaño, APLC today by calling (209) 255-6760 or by filling out the online contact form with the details of your case to learn more about how we can help you.