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Workplace safety in the Minnesota farming industry

Every day across America, people work in dangerous environments. Farming is considered one of those dangerous jobs in which workers handle heavy equipment, livestock, hazardous materials and chemicals, any of which can cause deadly accidents. The farming industry just as perilous as those involving logging, roofing, trucking, airplane piloting, working with steel, garbage collecting, construction work, and power-line repair and installing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2012, there were 374 farm-related work fatalities, according to National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries statistics. This means that out of every 100,000 farm workers, there were 20.2 fatalities. This amounts to 9.1 percent of the 4,628 workplace fatalities that occurred that year. Also in 2012, approximately 167 agriculture-related injuries resulting in missed work occurred every day with five percent of those injuries leading to permanent disabilities, according to the same study.

Agriculture is an important industry, and farming employees who are experienced in the routine use of equipment and hazardous materials should still practice good safety measures to prevent serious or fatal injuries. For example, a hog farmer in Iowa died of asphyxiation following the agitation of a manure pit, and a worker in Idaho was injured when a potato harvester crushed the worker's leg. Organizations such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health investigate and record numerous farming accidents each year.

Whenever a worker suffers a fatal injury in the workplace, the worker's family can file for workers' compensation benefits. If the family believes that the employer's negligence was a factor in their loved one's death, they may wish to contact a lawyer who handles workers' compensation claims. In these circumstances, the family may be entitled to an alternative form of compensation through a wrongful death claim rather than a workers' compensation claim.

Source: Lakefield Standard, "It can happen to you, young farm worker says", Debra Fitzgerald, September 15, 2014

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