According to new research from the University of California-Davis, farm workers have the most undercounted work-related injuries of any industry in the United States. Though it’s been known that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations out there, it seems to be even more hazardous than previously reported.
A study published in the Annals of Epidemiology found that federal agencies responsible for recording farm injuries fail to report 77 percent of instances of physical harm. In 2011, there was a 74 percent difference between the number injuries and accidents reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the number found by UC-Davis research; 19,700 injuries were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while UC-Davis found 74,932. In livestock work, the difference was even more vast; 12,300 injuries were reported by the government, compared to 68,504 found by UC-Davis- an 82 percent difference.
UC-Davis professor of public health sciences and study leader Paul Leigh attributes the discrepancy to a few different factors. First of all, the statistics reported by the government only take into account one dataset, the Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.
Study researchers looked at several surveys which allowed them more accurate results, including the National Agricultural Workers Survey, and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. Leigh also notes that the government did not include small, family-owned farms, and focused only on larger farms. The government’s low numbers could also be attribute to the migratory nature of agricultural workers.
Agricultural workers are subject to a variety of health risks, such as fruit pickers falling off ladders, back problems from stooping over, and asthma or neurological problems from breathing in grain dust. It is important to remember that anyone who is injured at work is entitled to workers’ compensation.
The sooner an injured worker reports the injury, the better, because it cuts down delays on receiving benefits, including medical care. Also, if a worker does not report their injury within 30 days, they may lose their right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation includes 5 benefits: medical care, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, supplemental job benefits, and death benefits.
If you were injured at work and need workers’ compensation benefits, the first thing to do is file a claimas soon as possible. Once you alert your employer of your injury, your employer is required to provide you with a claim form within one working day. After you fill out the “employee” section of the form, have your employer fill out the “employer” section.
Then, send the completed form to the insurance company. If your claim is accepted, you will receive all the benefits detailed above. If your claim was denied, that means the claims administrator does not think your injury is covered by workers’ compensation. You have the right to challenge this decision.
If you think you were wrongfully denied, or otherwise have a disagreement about your benefits, consult with your attorney, who can help you make a case or help resolve any medical disputes.