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Safety First: Protecting your workers from harm

The agriculture industry is widely known to be one of the most hazardous. In 2019, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting experienced a higher death rate per 100,000 workers than any other industry. Not only are fatalities high, but so are on-the-job injuries. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that each day, 100 agricultural workers in the United States suffer a lost work-time injury – and these injuries aren’t cheap. Experts calculate workers compensation claims cost the industry $4 billion each year.

For agricultural employers, these are troubling statistics. Keeping your employees safe ensures both their physical and financial well-being and that of your operation. That’s why safety should always be a top priority, no matter how seasoned your employees are. The good news is, you can easily implement a few simple safety precautions to reduce your liability and shield everyone on your farm from hazards.

Tractor Safety

In 2017, transportation incidents were the leading cause of death among farmers and farmworkers. The easiest way to prevent fatalities is to simply wear a seatbelt. Remind your workers to buckle-up by placing signage in and around farm equipment and encourage your staff to hold one another accountable.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, tractor rollovers account for 44% of farm accidents. Overturn deaths are easily avoided by ensuring that all of your tractors are equipped with Rollover Protective Structures (ROPS). Relatively new farm equipment will have ROPS built-in, but older models may not. If your tractors don’t have ROPS, check out the Cost-Effective Rollover Protective Structures developed by the NIOSH Division of Safety Research and Protective Technology Branch.

Pesticide and Chemical Safety

Exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides is the third leading cause of injury in the agriculture industry. The danger with chemical exposure is it often doesn’t happen in a single defining incident. Instead, long-term and gradual use of certain pesticides can cause many problems.

Educate your employees about the risks involved in handling chemicals and pesticides and provide them with protective equipment when necessary. In areas where you store chemicals, put up signage to warn both your workers and visitors about the danger of exposure.

Weather Safety

Rain or shine, your employees spend much of their workday outdoors, exposed to the elements. Heat illnesses, even mild cases, pose a significant threat to farmworkers by impairing judgment and causing deadly accidents. Make sure your employees stay hydrated and provide them with access to multiple sources of water. Encourage them to take breaks on hot days and to watch out for coworkers who seem weak or confused.

In the winter months, protect your employees against frostbite by requiring or providing appropriate winter gear, such as gloves, hats and coats. Spread salt or sawdust in icy areas to prevent slipping.

These are just a few of many safety measures you can take to protect yourself and your employees from injuries on the job. However, even if you take every possible precaution, accidents on the farm often occur. For ultimate protection, check out James Allen Insurance’s Farm Workers Compensation policy. Our protection can provide you with peace of mind knowing your employees will be taken care of in case of an incident.

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