Once upon a time, farmers were more likely to be injured by a horse than anything else around the farm. On today’s modern farm, there are many dangers, and the risk of serious injury or death is not to be taken lightly. Tractors, combines, hay balers, and choppers kill or maim hundreds of farm workers every year. With larger operations hiring temporary or migrant workers who may not be properly trained in the use of large machinery, injuries are likely and the owner of the farm may be held liable.
Tractors Pose the Greatest Danger to Farmers
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, tractor overturns are the leading cause of agricultural deaths in the U.S., averaging 125 deaths each year. When tractors are driven on a slope or across slippery or rough terrain, the likelihood of a rollover is high. On top of that, many older tractors are still in use and lack the rollover protective structures (ROPS) found on newer models. Even when tractors have this safety device, farmers often remove them for convenience. Farm workers are also unlikely to wear a seatbelt when driving a tractor, a move that could save their lives in a rollover.
Addressing Dangers Around the Farm
When a grisly death occurs on a farm, the news media often picks up the story: arms or legs caught in machine parts, workers falling into grain silos and suffocating, electrocutions, goring—the list goes on. The seriousness of the injury coupled with the distance of many farms from medical care leads to poor outcomes for many of the injured. For farmers who can afford it, there are new safety devices on the market. Some of these include:
- “Smart” grain bins. To eliminate the need for entering grain bins, a computer monitoring system can be hooked up to engage fans when needed and alert farmers via their phone.
- Tractor distress signal. Researchers are working on a system that will send out a GPS signal to emergency responders when a tractor rolls over.
- Remote kill switch. This can be used on combines, tractors or other machinery when the operator is thrown from the machine.
- Driverless tractors. Using remote-control technology, tractors can be run from a distance, removing the farm worker from danger.
There are many things farmers can do to ensure their own and their workers’ safety, whether it involves a high-tech device or not. However, if you are injured due to defective equipment, poorly-designed machinery, or through the negligence of your employer, you may have cause for legal action. Contact our office for a free review of your case.