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Farm work hazards: An FAQ on agricultural injuries

Any way you slice it, agricultural work is dangerous work.

Working here in the Modesto area or elsewhere in the Central Valley, you may have already experienced this personally.

In this post, we will use an FAQ format to discuss some of the common hazards that agricultural workers face

How serious are vehicle hazards?

Very serious. This is reflected not only in injuries, but in many deaths.

Nationally, there are hundreds of fatal farm accidents every year. Many of them involve vehicles. Tractor rollovers are the most frequent cause of these deaths.

There are also many other hazards with tractors and harvesters besides rollovers. Clothing that gets caught in driveshafts or other working parts is an especially terrible problem.

What about falls - how do those compare with other industries?

Federal data show that the injury rate for non-fatal falls is higher for farm workers than it is for workers in even such dangerous industries as mining and manufacturing.

Falls can occur on slippery surfaces in farm shops and other enclosures, as well as getting on and off farm machinery. And like machinery accidents, they can be fatal.

What are the risks from repetitive-motion injuries in farm work?

In crop and livestock production, the ergonomic risks of farm work are significant.

For example, in a dairy operation, the repeated motions needed to operate the milking equipment may raise the risk of certain musculoskeletal injuries.

Depending on the type of machinery, these injuries may be to knees, shoulders or other parts of the body.

There is also plenty of heavy lifting and carrying of objects involved in farm work. That type of exertion puts workers at risk of back injuries, especially when it is done frequently.

Are farm workers covered by workers' comp?

If you get a W-2 from your employer and get hurt on the job, work comp applies, even if you work on a small farm.

In other words, as long as you have employee status, you are covered. You don't have to work for a big company to be part of the system.

If you suffered an on-the-job injury or illness doing farm work, a knowledgeable attorney can help you pursue the workers' compensation you are eligible for.

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Making a false or fraudulent workers’ compensation claim is a felony subject to 5 years in prison or up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

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