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Ohio farming season highlights agricultural workplace safety

Ohio farmers may already be knee deep in the farming season in the hopes of achieving robust crops this year. Many farmers rely on farm hands and other agricultural workers to accomplish all of their harvest goals. Unfortunately, agricultural workers and farmers do face risk of injury and illness on the job. According to a new study, the majority of illnesses and injuries sustained by these employees go unreported. Upwards of 75 percent of such workplace injuries and diseases are never reported by the federal agencies that are in charge of tracking workplace hazards.

Although the resulting inaccurate data fails to present a true picture of the hazards faced in agricultural work, it also reduces the possibility that necessary improvements in safety, procedures, and equipment will be implemented.

Farms with a great deal of equipment put individuals at significant risk of suffering work injuries if proper safety and operating training isn't implemented. But, agricultural injuries can run the gamut from musculoskeletal problems to chemical exposure issues, and many of these things can be prevented.

One of the biggest challenges for the agriculture industry is reportedly the turnover in employees. On bigger, corporate farms especially, farm hands may come and go, only staying for a few weeks or just one summer. This means that the employer bears a big responsibility to ensure that every new employee has received adequate information about training and safety protocol.

Unfortunately, not all states protect seasonal workers on farms. According to a 2004 Ohio State University article, only 13 states, including Ohio, mandate that farmers cover all agricultural workers with workers' compensation insurance. This valuable protection may give employees peace of mind about working in what can be a dangerous industry.

Source: Iowa Farmer Today, "77 percent of U.S. ag injuries, illness unreported: study," May 2, 2014

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The Bainbridge Firm, LLC

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