Workers' compensation: Hazards in agriculture

Along with California's achievement in being leaders in the production of vegetables, fruit, nuts, wine, flowers and cotton, comes the problem of high numbers of occupational injuries. Each year, a significant amount of claims for workers' compensation benefits is filed by workers in the agriculture industry. Farmworkers work with dangerous equipment such as tractors, large farm animals, and significant hazards of electrocution by underground and overhead power lines.

Safety authorities say the fact that many farmers and their workers work on the farms where they live often causes complacency. This leads to preventable workplace injuries. When workers have done the same jobs and worked with the same equipment for years without adverse incidents, they become less alert, and they might even take shortcuts, which could put their lives on the line.

Farmworkers also face other hazards that include exposure to pesticides, insecticides, solvents, fertilizers and fuels. Exposure to harmful and toxic substances can cause nausea, headaches and burns, all of which could result in unconsciousness. One of the most significant hazards in the California agriculture industry is heat illness. Even when employers provide the necessary shaded areas and comply with prescribed safety standards, workers whose wages are based on the volume of produce the picked often decline taking breaks to avoid jeopardizing their incomes.

Whenever workers in California suffer work-related injuries or illnesses, they might be eligible for compensation to assist with unanticipated financial consequences. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can assist in the process of claiming benefits, which some workers find complicated. Basic benefits include coverage of medical expenses and lost wages and those who suffer injuries that cause permanent partial or total disability typically receive additional benefits.

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