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Posts Tagged ‘Farm Workers’

What are the Most Common Injuries to Agricultural Workers?

Farm Workers CompensationFarming may seem like an idyllic occupation, but the ability to work with agriculture and animals belies the dangers of the job. Agricultural work ranks among the most dangerous, with a very high risk for both fatal and nonfatal injury despite a number of comprehensive safety regulations having been put in place to reduce them.

Hundreds of farmers and farmworkers die each year from a work-related injury, and every day roughly 100 agricultural workers suffer an injury that results in needing time away from work.

The most common injuries are a result of vehicle accidents and particularly tractor rollovers, but injuries also result from the use of equipment, heat exposure, falls, strains and sprains, exposure to pesticides and more.

The most common injuries to agricultural workers include:

  • Vehicles – Roughly half of the nation’s annual agricultural fatalities are caused by rollovers and other vehicular accidents, and there are also numerous injuries incurred as a result of vehicle rollovers and collisions.
  • Heat illness – Workers are frequently exposed to hot and humid conditions, and when this is combined with heavy work tasks or wearing heavy protective clothing, the results can be deadly.
  • Ladders and falls – Agricultural workers have a higher rate of nonfatal fall-related injuries than do workers in the transportation, mining or manufacturing industry, and roughly 40 agricultural workers die each year from these falls.
  • Sprains and strains – Whether working with crops or animals, many agricultural workers are vulnerable to repetitive stress injuries, sprains and strains from heavy lifting, pushing and pulling, and injuries from prolonged awkward postures.
  • Equipment and machinery – The equipment essential to agricultural work can be extremely dangerous. Tools such as knives and hoes and machinery such as threshers and power tools are all dangerous when not properly maintained or used according to instructions.
  • Grain bins and silos – Workers can easily become trapped in grain bins and silos that are being filled, and this leaves them vulnerable to both suffocation and grain dust exposures that can cause significant respiratory problems.
  • Unsanitary conditions – There is a notable lack of clean drinking water, handwashing facilities and sanitation in farm environments. This leaves workers at risk for disease from germs and parasites, as well as urinary tract infections due to urine retention and poisoning from agricultural products.

Agricultural workers are entitled to workers’ compensation for injuries suffered on the job. For information about filing a claim, contact our office to set up an appointment.

How Does the Farm Labor Exemption Affect Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania?

Workers Compensation - TractorWorkers’ compensation is a no-fault form of insurance that covers injuries that workers incur on the job. It is available for the protection of both the employer and the employee. For the employee, it provides compensation for medical expenses for injuries or illnesses that occur on the job, as well as compensation for lost wages and disability if applicable. For the employer, workers’ compensation offers protection against getting sued for injuries that take place on your farm: the availability of insurance precludes the workers’ right to file a personal injury claim. Though there is a Farm Labor Exemption for certain farm sites in Pennsylvania, most farms in the Commonwealth will not qualify for these exemptions, as they generally only apply to extremely small operations who hire workers for very short periods of time.

Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act has a subsection that is specifically devoted to agricultural worksites. This section indicates that workers’ compensation is to be provided for employees if during a calendar year they pay wages to a single employee totaling $1,200 or more, or who employs a single employee for 30 or more days. Even if the farm has just one employee that meets that description, the workers’ compensation insurance coverage needs to be provided for all employees. The employers’ spouse or child under the age of 18 is not considered an employee under the law unless there is a specific written employment contract in place.

Many farm owners in Pennsylvania make the mistake of believing that they do not need to have workers’ compensation insurance because of the agricultural employee exemption, but the only farms for which this applies are generally those who only hire seasonal labor for extremely short periods of time. If an employer is required under the state’s rules does not purchase workers’ compensation insurance, they can be penalized for their failure to do so. They are also likely to be held liable for any injury that occurs on the job as a result of negligence.

If you are an agricultural worker who has been injured on the job, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, but you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to guide you through the process and advise you of your rights. Contact the attorneys at Vanasse Law today to learn more.