A consideration of dangerous jobs might bring to mind law enforcement, ice road trucking and manufacturing careers. However, the rate of deaths among farmers is several times higher than the national average for other jobs.
Agriculture does not involve a simple set of repeatable tasks that a farmer can do on autopilot. The combination of assignments and daily variables brings these workers into contact with numerous hazards.
The diverse hazards in agriculture
The Operational Safety and Health Administration lists a dozen categories where people who work on farms need to exercise care. Safety, health, respiratory, biological and environmental hazards exist at every turn, and the types of dangers might surprise people.
For example, respiratory distress is a legitimate concern. People often associate breathing issues with cities that have heavy traffic and many factories. However, farmers face respiratory dangers from biological and chemical sources. Grain and animal waste can create bioaerosols, including microorganisms, organic dust and endotoxins.
Whatever the source of hazardous conditions, farm laborers can take practical steps to avoid risk by wearing personal protective equipment and practicing safety in all tasks. Supervisors and laborers can do their part to maintain a safe working environment.
Concerns for youth in agriculture
OSHA also reminds agriculturists about ensuring the safety of young workers. Over 100 youth injuries occur on farms yearly, half of which are fatal. The Childhood Agricultural Injury Prevention Initiative seeks and supports research to raise awareness for hazards to youths on farms and to find ways to prevent injuries.
Farming is an essential aspect of commerce in America, but that task requires healthy and capable workers to do the job. Diligent attention to the many risks on farms can prevent accidents and injury.