Often overlooked in the mainstream discussions of workers’ compensation is the safety of farm workers in rural America. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 agriculture accidents accounted for the highest injury rate out of all other lines of work, with 21.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. Past data has also illustrated that youth face dangers of agricultural workplace accidents each year.
With this data in mind, Penn State has initiated a new two-year program to counter a plan that would limit a child’s ability to work on a farm. The program seeks to implement a national safety training curriculum for children while also addressing farmers concerns about being able to have youth workers.
The previous plan from the U.S. Department of Labor would have prohibited some children from operating tractors and participating in other agricultural work. After this plan was initiated, farmers raised serious concerns and sought out alternative paths. Penn State Extension educator Mena Hautau stated that the Labor Department withdrew the plan in 2012, but likely would have resurfaced soon if the issue was not handled proactively by the agriculture community.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded the Penn State program with a $600,000 grant. As part of the program, Penn State will work with other universities and groups to identify gaps in safety training curriculum, state certifications and testing and plans to sustain the education initiative after the grant funding has been used up. The safety training curriculum will be updated and modernized in hopes to help reduce the number of fatal accidents on farms throughout the country.
In Pennsylvania in 2012, there were 28 farm fatalities. While this number is about average, it is the hope of this program that this number will continue to decrease. If you or a loved one have experienced an accident on a farm where you work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Call the experienced workplace accident attorneys of Mednick, Mezyk & Kredo 888-807-WORK (9675) to schedule a free case evaluation. When you call, ask how you can receive a free copy of our book: Your Guide to PA Workers’ Compensation.