Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C.

Concern over high rate of workplace injuries in agriculture

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, only coal mining has more fatalities than the agriculture industry. That concern is underscored by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. The highest number of lives lost in fatal workplace injuries in California up to Nov. 2019 was in the agriculture industry.

NIOSH says this is the first time for agriculture to surpass construction when it comes to the annual number of work-related fatalities. A report by the president and CEO of AgSafe indicates that the most common causes for deaths among farmworkers were crushing injuries, falls and struck-by accidents. She says that, historically, construction workers are more frequently the victims of fatal injuries than those in the agriculture industry.

Safety authorities urged farmers to review their safety protocols along with the accident rates. Based on that information, they can make the necessary changes to mitigate identified dangers. Providing the required safety training at frequent intervals can help to prevent complacency and keep workers alert. It is also crucial to involve workers in safety planning because they are the ones who can identify potential hazards as they go about their daily duties.

With the current state of occupational safety on California farms, workers might find comfort in learning that the workers' compensation program has their backs. However, proving workplace injuries or deaths to be work-related could be challenging without the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney. Legal counsel can assist injured workers or the surviving family members of deceased workers throughout the ensuing proceedings in obtaining maximum allowed benefits. Wage replacement typically forms a part of the compensation, along with coverage of medical or end-of-life expenses.

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