New and improved safety regulations and requirements have made the workplace safer for most Illinois workers over the past decades. Even as construction and industrial site accidents have decreased, there is one field that has stubbornly stood out as a continued danger to its workers — farming. Largely ignored by regulators and victimized by continued budgetary cuts, farm workers are especially at risk for suffering from accidents on the job.
Training safety programs used to exist for both adults and children who lived and worked on farms. Mostly financed by federal funding, these programs sought to make the family farm that was filled with large, powerful and dangerous machines as safe as possible. Sadly, those programs did not last forever. After tragedy struck on Sept. 11, 2001, funding for those programs were slashed and pushed in new directions.
Because of these and other ongoing budgetary cuts, many states now operate without any type of professional entity overseeing farm and farm worker safety. Training workshops and seminars are nearly non-existent compared to the turn of the century, and the impact shows. When one man was called into work on his day off, he had no choice but to bring his young son with him, and the employer never gave the worker any warning that it was dangerous to let the boy ride alongside him on a skid loader. In the end, the boy fell off of the machine and was fatally injured.
Without the hardworking men and women who spend their time on increasingly dangerous farm equipment, the food security that so many people in Illinois enjoy would likely begin to disappear. With the right training and regulatory guidelines, accidents on the job are mostly preventable, and yet these staples of industry are so often ignored in the world of farming. Still, farm workers who have been injured on the job are still entitled to the same right to workers’ compensation that other employees enjoy. For most victims, workers’ compensation benefits are often the best option for achieving financial security until they are able to return to work.
Source: sunherald.com, “Tragic Harvest Part 1: The farm is one of the deadliest workplaces“, Jeffrey Meitrodt, Oct. 21, 2015
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