As an agricultural worker in California, you engage in hard work that is crucial to the state’s economy and our nation’s food supply. The agricultural sector, however, is fraught with risk, and you face potential hazards every day. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported 11,880 injuries in agricultural production in 2020.
Understanding the most common injuries that agricultural workers face is the first step in ensuring safety on the job.
Exposure to harmful chemicals
Chemicals are prevalent in agriculture. They help control pests and fertilize crops, but they can also pose significant health risks to workers. Prolonged exposure to these substances can cause chemical burns, respiratory problems or even chronic illnesses. Make sure you always wear appropriate protective equipment and follow the guidelines for safe chemical handling.
Modern farming relies heavily on heavy machinery. Tractors, combines and other farm equipment can increase productivity, but they also present considerable risk. Incidents involving machinery are a leading cause of severe injuries among agricultural workers. These injuries can include cuts, crushed limbs and other traumatic injuries. Always remember to follow safety procedures when operating machinery and ensure regular maintenance to keep equipment in safe working condition.
Agricultural work often involves physical labor that puts strain on the body. Lifting heavy objects, repetitive motions or even working in awkward positions can lead to musculoskeletal injuries. These can range from strains and sprains to more serious conditions like chronic back problems. Try to maintain proper lifting techniques and take regular breaks to reduce the risk of these injuries.
Working in the fields under the hot California sun can also lead to heat stress. This condition can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Remember to stay hydrated and take breaks in shaded areas whenever possible.
You have the right to a safe working environment, and understanding potential hazards is a key part of maintaining it.