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Farm workers in North Carolina are at risk of many dangerous hazards while they perform their job. Training these seasonal workers how to operate large farming equipment, how to avoid suffocation or dust explosion in a grain bin, how to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals or how to prevent heat illness is critical in preventing work injuries from farming accidents in Hickory, Statesville or elsewhere.
Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that farm worker advocates are asking state officials in North Carolina to do more to prevent serious injuries and death in the farming industry. Many gathered in Raleigh recently for Day of the Dead which is symbolic in remembering those who have lost their lives while working on a farm. Supporters gathered to remember two workers who were killed in the field while harvesting in August. One worker was pulled into a large piece of machinery while trying to clear a tobacco clog. There have also been several North Carolina farmers die from heat stroke since 2005.
Gastonia workers’ compensation attorneys know that the farming industry is particularly dangerous for young workers because many farms are a family business where youth workers live and work right on the premises. Migrant workers also live and share the work right on the premises on many family farms that hire seasonal workers needed to harvest the crop in a timely manner.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported almost 1.8 million laborers were employed in agriculture in 2009. There were 440 farmers or farm workers who lost their lives on the job in 2009, which equated to a fatality rate of 24.7 deaths per 100,000 workers. It is estimated that over 1 million children under age 20 lived on a farm in 2009, of which more than half performed work duties during harvesting season. In addition, 230,000 youth were hired outside the family to work in the farming industry.
From 1995-2002, it is estimated that 113 young workers died from a farm-related injury; 34 percent were between the ages of 16-19 years old. The most common causes of deaths were machinery accidents, transportation accidents (involving ATVs) or drowning.
Overall, there were more than 9,000 farm workers or farmers who died from an injury sustained at work from 1992 to 2009. Each year during this period, an average of 90 deaths were from overturned tractors which was the leading cause of death for these workers. It is important to note that five percent of the 243 workers in agriculture injured daily suffer from permanent impairment.
The U.S. Department of Labor offers these farm safety tips to workers:
-Develop awareness for hazardous chemicals and toxins on the farm, as well as, machinery hazards. Employees should always be trained in how to prevent farming accidents related to illness or injury.
-Read and follow instructions on the owner’s manual for operating large equipment.
-Never operate farm machinery without the safe guards in place. The guards are meant to protect and reduce the risk of serious injury.
-Only perform job duties when necessary personal protective equipment is provided by your employer.
If you or someone close to you has been involved in a large machinery accident while working in the North Carolina farming industry, contact Lee Law Offices, P.A. to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about your rights. Call 1-800-887-1965 for a free and confidential appointment to discuss filing a claim or how best to be compensated for your injuries.