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Powerful machinery and lagging safety make farms hazardous

Farming has long been recognized as a hazardous industry. However, while federal and Illinois law, insurers, workers and employers all push to enforce rules that improve workplace safety across most industries, many experts say there is a general lack of focus on the family farm.

According to a string of articles that have made the rounds on the Internet, regulatory training and safety programs have been slashed and that means a bitter harvest of increased numbers of farm accidents that result in serious if not fatal injuries.

The series entitled Tragic Harvest by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune focuses on conditions in Minnesota, but observes that they are not unique to that state. Indeed, they draw on cases from all around the Midwest, including here in Illinois, to highlight that farming remains among the most dangerous occupations in the U.S.

As the first article in the series notes, farmers are expected to follow the rules that apply to other work environments. However, Congress has seen fit to shield operations from federal regulation if they employ fewer than 11 workers. That leaves a lot of operations flying under the radar when it comes to preventing injuries and deaths.

The most recent data we are able to find from the Illinois Department of Public Heath reveal that agriculture ranks very high, with rates of injury or illness running at 4.8 per 100 in 2012. A related report by the DPH finds that those in the industry category under which agriculture falls are more than 44 percent more likely to be exposed to deadly accidents.

Many factors can contribute to farming accidents. Some may be the result of safety oversight. Some may be the result of faulty equipment or some other issue. Anyone who suffers an injury in a farm accident should know what their rights are for seeking compensation by consulting an experienced attorney.

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