Farmworkers provide a valuable service to the world, but the job comes with many safety concerns. In fact, the CDC states that agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries. Farmworkers face a significant risk for injuries and fatalities. Approximately 100 agricultural employees suffer an injury that causes them to take time off work. 

Why is farm work so dangerous? Here are some of the workplace hazards that jeopardize the health and safety of millions of farmworkers. 

Musculoskeletal injuries

Repetitive motions, awkward positions and overexertion are typical for crop and animal workers. Pulling crops, lifting and carrying heavy crates or working in uncomfortable positions for hours can easily result in musculoskeletal complications. These injuries are often cumulative, which means they develop over time. Common conditions include sprains, strains, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. Sufficient rest, new technology and ergonomic tools can reduce these injuries from occurring. 

Machinery and equipment

Farmworkers use a variety of tools and machinery, including:

  • Knives
  • Shears
  • Trowels
  • Hoes
  • Shovels
  • Tractors

All tools should receive proper maintenance to be in good condition. All farmworkers must wear the necessary protective gear to avoid injury.

Heat illness

Working in crop or animal production often requires farmworkers to be in hot and humid conditions for long periods of time. Exposure to heat can result in the following conditions:

  • Heat rash
  • Sunburn
  • Dehydration
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke

Drinking water, resting in the shade and wearing a hat can help workers prevent heat illness.

Pesticides

Pesticide exposure is a risk to farmworkers and their families. Those at the highest risk are pesticide handlers who mix, transport and apply pesticides. Workers who perform manual labor in treated areas are also at risk. Plus, workers who go home to their families may expose family members to these hazardous chemicals. Proper training and protective equipment can help reduce the health effects of pesticide exposure.