There’s no doubt about the prevalence of farming in Ohio. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Ohio is a leading agricultural state. Food and agriculture is the #1 industry.” The USDA website goes on to note that Ohio as 14.9 million acres devoted to farming.
To someone who is not acquainted with what farm labor entails, it might not seem like a particularly dangerous job, but the perils are there, and they are numerous.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cites some of the health threats inherent in farming: “Farmworkers are at high risk for fatalities and injuries, work-related lung diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases, and certain cancers associated with chemical use and prolonged sun exposure.”
Someone can be buried by the contents of a grain silo. This is called engulfment, which in a worst-case scenario, can result in suffocation. Workers can be exposed to and contract animal-borne diseases such as anthrax, rabies and avian flu. Getting accidentally pricked by a needle intended to administer medication to an animal can be another danger. Hazardous equipment and machinery pose more threats to worker safety. Tractors, hoes and power tools can be tricky to operate even when used by experienced individuals.
How can workers protect themselves from these and other dangers on farms? Equally importantly, what can farm owners do to keep their workers as safe as possible?
Some safety tips from OSHA to help farm workers stay safe
- Tractors are particularly dangerous, especially if they are aging, poorly maintained or used improperly. Anyone on a farm who is required to operate one should get training initially and periodically after that.
- Appropriate hygiene measures, personal protective equipment (PPE), vaccinations and training can reduce problems encountered when working with farm animals.
- Lifelines, training and PPE can help workers minimize the dangers associated with grain bins and silos.
If you are a farm worker who was injured in a farming-related accident, you may choose to seek workers’ compensation.