Improved Surveillance Urged to Combat High Rates of Workplace Injuries in Agriculture

In an article in the North Carolina Medical Journal, agriculture is described as “one of the most hazardous industries in North Carolina and in the United States.”

The industry earns this dubious distinction because there were 32.6 deaths per 100,000 workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry sector. This fatality rate was almost 10 times the average fatality rate of 3.3 deaths for each 100,000 workers in all fields. Our Greensboro work accident lawyers know that the agricultural industry also has a higher rate of injuries when compared to other fields. 1270655_watering_the_fields.jpg

Unfortunately, while the rate of farm injuries and deaths is high everywhere in the U.S., North Carolina is one of the worst states for farm-worker safety. In fact, the rates of farm-related injury and fatality in North Carolina exceed the average rates across the United States. This means that in an industry that is inherently dangerous and that has an inherently high death and injury rate, North Carolina does an especially bad job in protecting its workers.

Taking Steps to Combat High Death and Injury Rates
The article in the North Carolina Medical Journal indicates that the high rate of farm worker deaths in North Carolina is a significant public health problem. To resolve this problem and to cut the rate of death and injury, several recommendations were made. For example, the authors of the article suggest:

  • Effectively documenting and tracking injured individuals in order to find out the injury cause.
  • Stepping up surveillance so that it is easier to obtain information about the who, where, and how of an injury that occurs on the farm. This increased surveillance system would contain data elements to readily identify common injuries that workers suffer. The system would also encompass descriptive details about how the injury happened.
  • Establishing a better system of collecting and analyzing injuries and deaths that occur. When an agricultural employer has less than 10 employees, workers’ compensation generally does not apply and many injuries may go unreported.
  • Identifying the populations at risk of a workplace injury in the agricultural field. It is difficult or impossible to have a full understanding of the injury and death rates without understanding who the population of agricultural workers is that are at risk on the job.
  • Creating a dedicated task force made up of experts who can establish a consensus on an appropriate surveillance system and on what standardized measures should be used to define farm injuries.

With so many injuries occurring, it may seem odd at first that the NC Medical Journal article is so focused on improving surveillance and recording of injuries, rather than jumping in and tackling ways to actually stop accidents from occurring.

However, taking steps to improve surveillance is viewed as very important in combating the high death and injury rates in the agricultural industry. Only by understanding the cause of deaths and the problems that exist can regulations be crafted to work towards reducing the number of tragic accidents. An effective surveillance system thus must be established first so that it will be possible to better understand and regulate the dangers agricultural workers face on the job.

If you have been injured in a work accident, contact the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:
Amputations Underestimated in Carolina Workplaces, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, April 14, 2013

South Carolina Boeing Worker Killed in Fall Work Accident, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, April 21, 2013.

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