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Are Pennsylvania agricultural workers prone to workplace deaths?

A lot of Pennsylvanians will point to the construction industry as one of, if not the most, dangerous work industries. Although it is true that construction has its share of risks that can cause injuries and workplace deaths, Pennsylvanians may be surprised to know that agriculture also ranks high in terms of fatalities and injuries. This, of course, is bad news for the over 1.8 million agricultural workers who work in Pennsylvania and across the United States.

Agricultural workers face many risks. Agricultural workers often deal with pesticides, equipment and heavy machinery. Workers can develop illnesses from exposure to pesticides and other chemicals and incur injuries from equipment and heavy machinery. Therefore, injuries are common in the agricultural industry. According to the figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day, around 167 workers from the agricultural industry sustained a workplace injury. In the figure, five percent resulted in permanent disability.

Young workers, aged 20-years-old and younger, were most prone to these injuries. Around 14,000 of these workers suffered injuries on farms in 2012. Unfortunately, young workers were also the most prone to fatalities. Workers aged 16 to 19-years-old accounted for 34 percent of the total deaths for workers who were 20- years-old and younger. On average, 113 young workers die every year because of farm injuries. Twenty-three percent of these deaths are due to accidents with a tractor, 19 percent involved other motor vehicles and 16 percent were due to drowning.

Tractor overturns were the leading cause of fatalities. In total, 374 agricultural workers died in 2012. The agricultural industry, per 100,000 workers, has a death rate of 20.2 fatalities. With these figures, Pennsylvania employers, as well as farm workers, should be more cautious of the risks involved in agricultural work.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Agricultural Safety," Accessed on Dec. 8, 2014

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