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866-223-2525 toll free

Summer farm work is dangerous but economically important

| May 29, 2018 | Workers' Compensation

Farm workers face a host of hazards when they are in the fields. While this is very hard physical labor, each worker plays an important part in the nation’s economy. Taking care of these employees is a priority, but the duty to make this happen falls on the employer.

There are several threats that come with field work in the summer. Minimizing these threats can improve the safety of workers. It is critical that workers take care of themselves as best as possible while they are outside.

Heat is a huge hazard

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are both possible during the summer months. Not only do you have to watch for the high temperatures but you have to be careful when the humidity is high. The heat index is something that can help workers to know what types of precautions they need to take on any given day.

Anyone who is out in the elements needs to watch for signs of heat exhaustion, which include feeling tired, sweating profusely or sweating stopping suddenly, being too hot or feeling out of sorts. Many workers who are exposed to the heat have built up a tolerance to some of the heat, but even these workers need to be careful when it is getting hotter.

Sanitation is important

During the hotter months of the year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that workers drink water every 15 minutes. Farmers must provide dedicated areas for workers to use the restroom. While it is possible to provide portable toilets, there is also a need for workers to be able to wash their hands. The Field Sanitation Standards provide clear instructions for farmers who employ 11 or more field hands. Following these standards can boost sanitation for workers handling crops.

Musculoskeletal injuries

The repetitive motions necessary to do field work can lead to injuries. The same is true for the sometimes awkward positions that workers have to move in. Stretching and using proper body mechanics can help to prevent these types of injuries. In some cases, workers might suffer from cumulative injuries that seem minor at first but get progressively worse. Trying to ignore these while the season progresses can mean that the injuries require more extensive treatment than what they would have when they first occurred.

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