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The Dangers of the Agriculture Industry

Machinery is necessary for modern agricultural endeavors. We count on the consistent quality and quantity of work that machines can produce. However, machines can be dangerous for agricultural workers. They can result in significant injuries or even fatalities.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) warns of several ways that workers can be seriously hurt from machines. For example, NIOSH warns that if a tractor is not properly hitched then serious and fatal accidents can occur. These types of tragic accidents can be prevented by making sure that the hitching equipment is working correctly and that workers know how to properly hitch the equipment.

Accidents can also occur when body parts such as hair or limbs become entangled with the machine. Severe cuts, amputations and death are possible.

Further, farmers need to be aware of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from gasoline powered machines and tools. Carbon monoxide poisoning can quickly lead to death with little warning so proper precautions against this risk must always be taken.

The modern agriculture industry would not be what it is today without the help of machines. However, those machines carry very real and serious risks for injury and fatality that need to be addressed so that that fewer agricultural workers are seriously injured or killed while on the job.

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Is Fresh Farm Air Dangerous?

Those who work in an office may daydream about a farmer’s ability to breathe the fresh natural air on the farm. However, that air may not be as fresh and healthy as imagined. Instead, it can be laden with possible toxins and allergens that can lead to serious allergic reactions and asthma.

Contaminants such as animal proteins, flour and chemicals can be prevalent on the farm. They can lead to allergic reactions including skin conditions such as hives and more serious anaphylactic shock. They can also lead to a wheezing, chest tightness and cough that are associated with asthma. Any of these conditions can be serious and some can be life threatening if they are not properly treated. They can all result in time missed from work for health reasons.

There are important steps that employers can follow to lower the risk of occupational asthma. While it may be impossible to eliminate all of the hazards or contaminants on a farm, it is possible to educate farmers about the early warning signs of the condition and about ways to minimize their risks.

Asthma is a problem that effects livestock farmers as well as crop farmers. Those who work with livestock should take necessary precautions such as keeping animal areas clean and changing their clothes as soon as their work is done.

Asthma can be a serious and permanently disabling condition so it is important for all necessary precautions to be taken to minimize the risks.


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Preventing Cancer Among Farmers

Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. The risks come from many different sources and can result in many different injuries and illnesses. One of those illnesses that can develop as a result of agricultural work is cancer.

There are two primary causes of cancer among agricultural workers. Those causes include exposure to the sun and exposure to chemicals. Farmers typically work long hours outside when the sun is the strongest. It is quite easy for them to get sunburned and to eventually develop skin cancer. Farmers should be trained in proper skin cancer prevention techniques such as the regular use of sunscreen and the wearing of wide brim hats.

Cancer can also develop from exposure to chemicals such as pesticides. It is recommended that farm workers wear protective clothing and regularly change their clothes and wash their hands to minimize the chemicals that come into contact with their bodies.

While the overall cancer rate among farmers may be lower due to their physically active lifestyle and lower incidence of smoking, they are still at risk of developing certain types of cancer such as skin cancer while on the job. Those risks can be minimized and injury and death rates can be lowered with proper prevention techniques.

PHearing Loss Among Farm Workers

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), hearing loss among farmers is very common. As many as a third of farmers are regularly exposed to time weighted average noise above 90 dBA which is the level of time weighted average noise exposure deemed safe by OSHA. OSHA requires employers to implement a continuing, effective hearing conservation program when the time weighted average noise is above 85 dBA.

Much of the noise comes from operating farm machinery that is necessary for planting, cultivating and harvesting crops or caring for livestock. As part of the continuing, effective hearing conservation program, employers can require employees to wear protective equipment in order to minimize the noise and bring the noise down to levels that will not threaten workers’ hearing. Employers should also keep accurate records about the noise on the job sites and train workers about how to protect themselves.

Workers' hearing can also be damaged in ways other than loud machinery. The whole body vibration and segmental vibrations that workers experience when using equipment can contribute to hearing loss. Newer equipment decreases these vibrations and may lower a worker’s risk of developing hearing problems. Heat stroke is also thought to be a possible contributory factor to hearing loss, though the effects of heat stroke have not been well documented yet.

Hearing loss can be a devastating disability. It can profoundly change the way in which a person lives and works. It can result in many lost days from work and large medical bills. It is, therefore, important for farm workers to be aware of the risk and for agricultural employers to minimize the risk on their farms.

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We offer this information as a public service to those interested in Workers Compensation news. This newsletter is not legal advice and should only be considered as general information.

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