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Food for thought: 1 farm worker dies on the job every day

On behalf of of Frederick & Hagle posted in Workplace Injuries on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created in 1970 largely thanks to the efforts of union workers looking to curb the high workplace fatality rates across various fields.

However, many have long argued that the federal safety regulator does not go far enough. While workplace deaths are decreasing, workplace injuries and accidents still happen with alarming frequency across the country.

Farm workers are a group that does not often receive as much attention regarding workplace injuries and deaths, but these workers are extremely vulnerable to serious injury on the job. Several factors put farm workers at risk, but chief among these risk factors is their exclusion from some protections granted by federal labor laws.

Complicating matters, just under half of farm workers do not speak English, so many are unsure of their rights. The Center for Progressive Reform issued a report using federal data that concludes at least one farm worker dies every single day across the country, and even more are injured.

There are scores of factors that put these workers at risk. The report details a seemingly-endless list:

  • Heat
  • Heavy loads
  • Unsafe, slippery work surfaces
  • Heavy machinery
  • Pesticide exposure
  • Grain Silos

Heavy loads can cause repetitive stress or back injuries, slippery surfaces can cause fall injuries, defective heavy equipment can easily injure or kill a worker, pesticide exposure can make workers ill and we have detailed the extreme suffocation risk that grain silos present in previous posts.

The report really sums it up best: “In short, farm work is dangerous business.”

Source: People’s World, “Report: Food on American tables costs a life a day,” Mark Gruenberg, April 25, 2013

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