The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says about 100 workplace injuries happen on farms and ranches nationwide each day, including California, and some of them are fatal. If you are an agricultural worker, you might be smart to not rely on your employer to protect your health and safety. Although the California Division of Safety and Health prescribes strict standards with which employers must comply, employee safety is often not the primary focus.
Although there is an endless list of potential safety hazards when it comes for farm and ranch work, safety authorities say vehicle rollovers and grain bin accidents make up a significant percentage of workplace accidents in the agriculture industry. However, an often-ignored hazard is noise exposure. Your job will expose you to various loud noises, both high and low frequencies that can cause hearing loss.
The following necessary safety protocols that relate to farming and construction might keep you out of the hospital, and might even save your life:
- Know the effects of medication: Medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter can make you sleepy, impair your reaction times and more. They might put you at risk if you operate equipment or power tools when you take medications.
- Beware of fatigue hazards: If you do not get enough sleep, take frequent breaks and stay hydrated while working, fatigue can set in — a condition that could lead to critical errors in the workplace.
- Be contactable: Make sure your employer and family know of your whereabouts. Always have a cellphone or two-way radio to call for help in cases of accidents or emergencies.
- Equipment maintenance: Working with machinery and farm equipment that is outdated or lack maintenance is life-threatening. Always follow manufacturers’ recommendations for farm vehicles like tractors and other equipment.
- Grain bin safety: Never enter a grain bin if it is not absolutely necessary, and when you do, make sure to follow all the appropriate safety regulations. Grain acts like quicksand, and it can engulf you in seconds.
- Take care when driving: Your job might have you driving slow-moving agricultural vehicles from dawn to dusk. Always be aware of other motorists who might attempt to pass at an unsafe moment, and activating your vehicle’s hazard lights might caution them.
- Hazardous chemicals: Your job will expose you to various chemicals, and safe handling is crucial. Always make sure chemicals are in original containers that are clearly marked, and learn what to do in chemical-exposure emergencies.
Along with these precautions, you might be smart to wear personal protective equipment when necessary.
Are farm workers eligible for workers’ compensation?
Employees in the agriculture industry in California are entitled to the same workers’ compensation benefits as workers in other sectors. As long as you report the injury to your employer as soon as possible, the state-regulated insurance program will provide financial assistance. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you with the navigation of the benefits claims process to obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and other applicable benefits.