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Seasonal workers on California farms face serious risks at work

When people think about jobs that entail a higher than average risk of injury or death, they likely think of careers in construction or transportation. One career path that carries a higher level of risk without many people realizing it is agricultural work. California has a large number of farms, growing everything from avocados to grapes. Many times, these farms employ seasonal workers, who may travel from area to area or even across multiple states, following the planting and harvesting seasons.

All too often, these workers face unnecessary dangers caused by employers. For example, failing to properly train workers on the safe use of pesticides and fertilizers could endanger people, causing illness or death. In some cases, they may fail to properly maintain machinery or require workers to perform these jobs in manners that clearly increase the danger associated with them. When employees end up injured or killed, farms could face accusations of negligence, as well as workers' compensation claims.

Farm machinery like tractors is the biggest risk

Tractors, combines and other massive machines that perform critical farm tasks came into being to reduce the physical strain and risk to farm workers. Machines can perform countless tasks that were once only done manually, such as tilling, planting, harvesting or turning under crops. There is a trade off to the amount of labor these machines save. They are incredibly expensive and can often pose risk of severe injury or death.

Trying to pull something out of a chute, for example, could result in the loss of a limb. Falling off of a tractor, being struck by a machine or its implements or similar dangers put workers at risk. The biggest risk seems to stem from tractors. In fact, from 1992 to 2009, tractor overturns were the single largest cause of death for workers on farms, with roughly 90 of these accidents each year.

Workers get injured on farms every day

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, over 240 farm workers suffer injuries that result in missed work every single day. Roughly five percent of these injuries leave workers permanently disabled or impaired. Farm workers may experience more risk of injury than people who work in many other fields. Like any employee who end up sickened or injured as a result of their employment, injured farm workers or surviving family members may have the right to seek compensation.

Some workers may qualify for workers' compensation benefits to cover their medical expenses, lost wages and other financial consequences of the incident or illness. In other cases, where workers ended up hurt because of an employer's overt negligence, a lawsuit against the employer may be the best option.

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