16 Jan /14

A Health and Safety Nightmare

most-dangerous-workplaceHealth and safety regulations are all about one thing: keeping workers safe so that they can be productive. Though these regulations are of varying effect depending on the industry and individual company’s application, there is one specific industry that presents unique challenges for health and safety professionals because the eclectic set of occupational safety hazards it harbors. Surprisingly, this particular sector is not the mining or explosives business but the agriculture industry. Simply put, there is a reason why the most dangerous workplace is a farm.

According to the National Safety Council, for the workers of America’s 2.3 million farms and ranches danger lurks around every corner. Approximately 1,300 deaths and 120,000 injuries occur on America’s farms every year as the result of typical workplace injuries and unique industry hazards. Farm work combines common risks such as exposure to the elements, noise, and fatigue with the risks of industrial labor (high voltage, heavy machinery, tools etc.). In addition to those safety issues there is also the use of chemicals and pesticides that add to the list of potentially fatal workplace situations. As a result,

  • Farm workers are 8 times more likely to die on the job than workers in other industries.
  • More than 10% of the entire agricultural workforce will suffer an amputation on the job.
  • 8% of farmers will experience exposure to high voltage electricity during their work life and about 62 farm workers will die every year from electrocution
  • The cause of the largest percentage of workplace accidents on a farm is also the most common piece of machinery: the tractor accounts for 37% of all farm accidents.


The broad spectrum of work place hazards cause farmers and ranchers to be particularly concerned about the health and well-being of their employees. A basic step to provide effective safety standards is to ensure is best accomplished by making sure that the people they employ are fluent and up to date with all of the health and safety regulations for the equipment they will be using. Migrant workers, however, represent a particular challenge in addressing safety concerns in an agricultural setting. Admittedly, there have been advances in attempting to address the health and safety needs of this group, such as the introduction of Spanish-language resources as well as some OSHA documentation being translated into Spanish; however, there is little hard proof to demonstrate that these efforts have had widespread impact. Therefore, perhaps the logical step is to think small-scale.

In order to be productive and, indeed, increase productivity, a farm needs to have workers who are healthy and safe. As we have previously discussed, the best way to assure that your workers are safe and healthy is to confirm that they have read and understand health and safety regulations. Finally, the best way to make sure that regulations are understood and followed is by presenting the material in an easy to understand format and language, and this can best be accomplished through the services of a trusted and experienced translation company like EVS Translations.

Meet us at the 2oth World Congress on Safety and Health in Frankfurt Germany in August or contact us to learn more about how we can help you make the most of your agricultural health and safety programs.