South Carolina contains nearly five million acres of farm land, broken down into more than 25,200 farms. The average size of a farm in our state is 197 acres. With this much farm land, it isn’t surprising that accidents occur and, in 2015, an average of six out of every 100 agriculture workers were injured on the job. That same year, 401 farmers and farm workers were killed due to a workplace injury. Many of these injuries and fatalities are the result of the following agricultural workplace hazards.
Accidents involving farm vehicles such as tractors, harvesters and ATVs are the largest cause of death for farmers and farmworkers. In 2011, farm vehicle accidents caused nearly half of the 570 agricultural worker fatalities. To prevent injury while working in a motor vehicle, always wear your seatbelt whenever there is a risk of overturning. Make sure that there are no large items in the cab that could come loose if the vehicle tips. If the vehicle does tip over, stay inside. Trying to jump clear of an overturning farm vehicle is one of the most common causes of farmworker death. When you need to leave the vehicle, make sure you stop safely: turn on the handbrake, put controls in neutral, turn off the engine and remove the keys.
Other Equipment and Machinery
Power tools and other equipment and machinery used on a farm can be just as dangerous as vehicles. You should be thoroughly trained before you use any machine or power tool. Always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPEs) while operating heavy machinery and never wear clothing that is baggy or has loose ends that could get caught in rotating parts. If a machine is blocked or jammed, do not try to remove the blockage until the machine is turned off and all moving parts are still.
Pesticides and Other Chemicals
Exposure to pesticides can lead to short-term and long-term illnesses. Even the family members of pesticide handlers can be affected by pesticides if workers accidently take home traces of the contaminant. To avoid the negative effects of pesticide contamination, be sure to wear appropriate PPEs when working in treated fields. Before eating, move to a nontreated area and wash your hands.
Due to the bending, lifting and repetitive motions involved in farm work, musculoskeletal injuries such as tendonitis, rotator cuff injuries and muscle strains are very common in the agricultural industry. The best way to prevent these work-related injuries is to act sooner rather than later. Use ergonomically designed tools and equipment whenever possible and use proper lifting techniques. If you start to notice any symptoms of a musculoskeletal injury, report them to your supervisors immediately before your condition worsens.
Grain Bins and Silos
Farmworkers are killed every year through engulfment and suffocation in grain bins and silos. Workers can be trapped under grain if unloading equipment begins filling the bin while workers are inside. Never enter grain bins while unloading equipment is running. If the bin uses automatic unloading equipment, be sure to lock the control circuit before entering the bin. Whenever you must work in a grain bin under uncertain conditions, have at least one other person on site and wear a body harness that can withstand up to 5,400 pounds of stress.
Do You Need a Worker’s Compensation Accident Attorney in South Carolina?
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