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Promoting safety for agricultural workers

While agriculture undoubtedly plays a huge role in the Illinois economic sector, there is still great concern regarding the safety of agricultural workers.  There were more than 48,000 injuries to farm workers across the nation in 2011 and in 2012 there were 475 fatalities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration are trying to take steps to reduce those numbers.  OSHA officials are working with the agricultural sector to produce workplace safety at farms and to institute education and training to reduce workplace accidents.

Farm workers are at risk for skin diseases, cancers due to exposure to certain chemicals, hearing loss and various lung diseases. Workers are also exposed to dangers while working with farm equipment and handling of grain. These dangers are multiplied when farm workers are placed in confined areas to perform chores.

The agriculture economy is present everywhere throughout the country including Illinois. While other industries might be seeing reduced rates in the number of fatal workplace accidents, OSHA reported that there were a record number of deaths for agricultural workers in 2010.

Training manuals are being created to improve safety as well. As many agricultural workers are Hispanic these manuals are being printed up in Spanish as well as English.

Workers' compensation laws have been put in place in Illinois to help workers injured on the job. The hope is that by holding employers responsible for employee injuries, businesses will do what they can to promote workplace safety.

However, workers' compensation laws are complex and workers do not always understand their rights when an injury has occurred. Workers could therefore greatly benefit by speaking to experienced attorneys in this area who can represent them and advise them of their rights.

Source: Fire Engineering, "US Labor Department's OSHA Working with Agriculture Community to Promote Safety Education," Sep. 17, 2013

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