The Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin teamed up with the National Farm Medicine Center recently to spread awareness and training to farm workers. This coordination attempt was to reduce the number of work injury reports in agricultural-related jobs across the state. Training included topics of animal handling, electrical and chemical safety and proper usage of protective equipment.
The NFMC reports that over half of the employees in the dairy industry are Hispanic, and with that comes unique obstacles of language barriers and cultural differences. Studies show that agricultural jobs present a 10 times higher rate of death due to equipment misuse and inexperience handling large animals. These work-related injuries are the center of the focus for these training sessions.
A Community Outreach Specialist said that training was an ongoing experience and not something you can simply supply once and expect workers to learn without additional training and continuing support. He suggests monthly or every couple of months training sessions, especially at times of seasonal changes for the new dangers and hazards. Working in a field or dairy plant during summer months carry different concerns and safety concerns than the winter months.
Many of the workers in the Wisconsin training reported little knowledge of their workers' compensation rights. Some apparently believed it was health insurance rather than compensation for an on the job injury. Some farm owners as well stated that they were unclear of the exact rights and responsibilities they had in terms of worker's compensation. Teaching workers to seek knowledge if an injury occurs was also a primary concern for the NFMC.
In addition to training sessions, people who are injured on the job may find it beneficial to speak with an experienced attorney about their rights as an injured worker.
Source: Agriview, "Dairy workers benefit from orientation, reinforcement of farm safety," Peggy Coffeen, Aug. 30, 2012