Not many people realize the high risks involved with farming. They envision a peaceful process of planting and harvesting, much like how it was done generations ago. Nowadays, however, the process is much more complex and involves lots of machinery, chemicals, and moving parts.
This article is here to describe some of the statistics involved with farming accidents, why they happen, how they can be prevented, and what legal recourse workers may have when injured. Read on to find out where the liabilities may lie and how to find a lawyer that knows what you're experiencing.
Farm Accident Statistics
According to reports in December of 2000, there are nearly 270 deaths nationwide involving farm tractors alone. When broadened to encompass all kinds of farming accidents, the national rate of death is 22.1 for every 100,000 workers. That is an astonishingly high rate.
In an older study (1990) it was reported that there were 3.1 million men and women working on farms in the country, with 1300 lives lost and 120,000 injuries caused in that year alone. We can estimate by natural growth and demand that these numbers have since risen.
Common Farm Accidents
Far and away the most common type of farming accident is tractor-related. As stated earlier the number of tractor related deaths floats between 250-300 a year, many of those incidences occurring from tractor overturn. Even though the technology exists to protect workers from overturn (rollover protective structures and high quality seat belts), many tractors do not come with that equipment.
It is believed that survival rate of overturn when in a properly protected tractor improves from a scant 38% to 99%. It is therefore irresponsible not to provide these safety elements on all tractor models.
Another frequent farm accident is entrapment in a silo, barn, or other similar structure. With as much grain, fruit, hay, etc that gets moved around, sometimes incidents occur wherein a worker becomes trapped.
Yet another kind of accident involves spills and exposure. Some farms use heavy amounts of chemicals to treat produce, care for livestock, enhance the soil, and so on. Exposure to these products have the potential to lead to short and long term negative effects.
Finally injury can occur from direct contact with farm animals (trampling, sickness, etc).
Tips on Accident Prevention
According to the OSHA fact sheet, there are a few common factors that lead to accidents and fatalities - emergency preparedness, age of workers, protective equipment, and machinery.
In regards to emergency preparedness, it is important for farm workers to understand and account for possible situations that could arise. That means taking an inventory of all hazardous material and equipment on the premises and supplying the proper measures to deal with injury. Injuries can be physical and require first aid, chemical and require poison prevention, and so on.
Farms are located almost exclusively in rural areas and it can be difficult to get to established medical facilities in time to help serious injuries.
Studies show that people under the age of 15 and over the age of 65 are most likely to be injured. Farm owners should accommodate those people most at risk and make sure they have the proper safety equipment and, if applicable, supervision to avoid incident.
Protective equipment and, in conjunction, machinery are the largest factors in farm injury. Most machines on a farm are very serious pieces of equipment, capable of chopping, shredding, gathering, etc. Metal moving parts on big tractors and other vehicles can spell disaster without proper protective gear. The catch is that seat belts and other protective measures are rarely required, and thus can be ignored quite easily.
It's important to find a lawyer who has experience in farming matters, not just a general practice attorney who may have never stepped foot on a farm. The problem is, finding a lawyer like that, especially in your area (and especially if you live in a rural, lightly populated area) can be very tricky. It helps to have access to a network that can find the right lawyer for you.