It’s easy to romanticize agricultural work, especially in a state like Florida where every aspect of the natural world seems to want to help farmers along. Unfortunately, agricultural work comes with a significant degree of personal risk. Farmers and the paid workers who assist them may get hurt and even die on the job. Agricultural workers put everything on the line in their efforts to produce the food that the country requires to keep dinner tables full.
There are numerous risks inherent in agricultural work. Workers and farm owners who understand those concerns and also the systems in place for their protection may have an easier time limiting their risk of injury and financial losses related to their work.
Modern technology contributes to workplace risk
Tractors and similar equipment may reduce the human labor required to run a farm, but they put people at risk. In 2020, vehicles were the top cause, responsible for 50% of farm worker deaths. People, plants and animals caused another 21% of fatalities on farms.
Structures and surfaces contributed to 8% of deaths, while machinery was the cause of 4%. Other sources were responsible for the remaining 17% of fatalities on farms and large-scale agricultural operations. Accidental drug overdoses claimed multiple wipes in agricultural environments.
In terms of incidents that lead to injury and not necessarily death, equipment and animals are concerns. Interpersonal violence is also an issue. Over-exertion and falls from a significant height, as well as exposure to extreme heat and agricultural chemicals, are also common sources of injury in agricultural workplaces.
What protects farm workers?
Employees at farms and other agricultural operations have the benefit of workers’ compensation insurance in many cases. The available coverage can cover their medical care and can also provide disability benefits to replace lost wages. In the rare, tragic scenarios where agricultural workers die, surviving family members may be able to obtain death benefits that will help cover funeral costs and medical expenses in addition to providing some wage replacement.
Understanding the risks to agricultural workers and the protections in place to help them, including workers’ compensation coverage, can help to ensure that those who keep America fed are not subjected to preventable hardship.