Summer Workplace Risks for Farmers and Agriculture Workers
Farmers and other agricultural workers are some of the most essential workers in our society as they grow food that nourishes the population. Workers in this industry who are employed in the Sunshine State are especially valuable, as the weather here allows for the cultivation of crops that won’t grow almost anywhere else in the United States, such as the more than 16 million tons of sugarcane and over two million tons of oranges grown in Florida in 2018 alone. But unfortunately, cultivating crops also cultivates the risk of workplace hazards for those working in this industry. While employees in every kind of industry have been affected during America’s coronavirus pandemic, those working in fields, orchards and packing plants have faced a magnified risk that has unfortunately resulted in numerous reports of illness among farm workers. This is reportedly due to factors such as:
- Lack of provided soap and hand washing stations
- Shortages of protective equipment
- Limited access to medical care
- Living together in shared quarters with close proximity
However, as we quickly approach the warmest months of the year it is also important to recognize that though the pandemic is a new and grave potential threat, it is far from the only summertime workplace risk farm workers have to deal with.
Understanding Summertime Workplace Hazards
Especially here in South Florida, any worker who spends extensive amounts of a workday outside risks is facing inherent environmental exposures such as:
- Heat-related injuries
- Bug and animal attacks
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
In addition to understanding the risks of working during the summer, and especially during a pandemic, farm and agricultural workers should also take steps to help limit or eliminate them. These steps include:
- Use protective measures. Apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher at least 30 minutes before you begin working outside every day. Make sure you also use masks, gloves, and wash your hands as frequently as possible.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, most of which should consist of water as opposed to sports drinks, soda or alcohol.
- Dress appropriately. Wear light-colored, cool clothing that covers as much skin as possible but is made from lightweight material. Also wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Take breaks. Make sure that you take all breaks offered by your employer and maximize them by finding a shady place to rest. If there is an air-conditioned break room available, this is the best option for resting in.
Don’t Allow Your Legal Rights to Cool.
Unfortunately, anyone who works within the agriculture industry can find themselves the victim of one of the many workplace risks they face at any moment in time. As the experienced Miami workers’ compensation attorneys at Payer & Associates, we know that farm and agricultural workers are employed in some of the toughest and most important jobs that often go overlooked and under-appreciated. We recognize your value and we have a genuine interest in ensuring that you obtain the medical treatment you need as well as the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve. Contact us today to begin.