Driving through the American midwest or the Great Plains can give anyone a roadside glimpse into the lives of commercial farmers.
Vast tracts of land are home to countless agricultural crops, all part of a delegate process of planting and harvesting. But no matter what types of crops you choose to farm, there are several undeniable health risks associated with the agricultural industry.
As a farmer, you’re exposed to more dangers on a daily basis than with most other jobs. And unless you know how to protect yourself from these dangers, you may have to deal with significant health concerns.
Studies have shown that each day, approximately 100 agricultural workers suffer an injury or illness that results in lost wages. And small crop farmers are just as susceptible to these types of injuries.
If you’re concerned about the state of your health or that of your workers, the following will explore the 3 major health concerns that all farmers face on a daily basis.
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns that all farmers face is the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease due to exposure to herbicides and pesticides. And though several of these harmful chemical compounds have been banned from use, many are still on the market.
For example, the herbicide known as Paraquat is widely used across farmland in the United States and has been linked to the development of Parkinson’s Disease. In fact, approximately 11 million pounds of the substance are sprayed on crops annually and this can present huge health risks for farmers and farmworkers who have been exposed to the substance.
As a result of this health risk, several class-action lawsuits have been raised due to the debilitating conditions that Parkinson’s can impact on its victims. If you feel that you’ve been exposed, to learn more about recent settlements regarding Paraquat exposure, you should contact a personal injury attorney.
Not only does working around harmful chemicals present a greater risk for developing health problems, working outside in direct sun exposure can pose a serious risk for developing skin cancer. And many farmers and farm workers develop skin cancer each year.
Even those who work outside in a small garden for many hours a day increase their risk of developing skin cancer. But when it comes to farmers and farmworkers, you’re spending much more time outdoors than most people do in a given week. And this elevates your chances of developing this deadly disease.
A few precautions you can take for reducing the probability of developing skin cancer are as follows:
- Wearing SPF 50 or greater sunblock
- Wearing long sleeves
- Wearing a hat
- Seeking shade when possible
- Take frequent breaks away from direct sunlight during the day
- Work outside of peak overhead sunlight hours
Even more than 15 minutes of direct sunlight exposure during peak hours (usually between Noon and 4pm) can greatly increase your chances of developing skin cancer. As a precaution, any method for reducing your overhead sun exposure adhering listed above will prove to be a wise decision.
Among the many significant health risks that small or large crop farmers can face, you also need to worry about the development of respiratory illnesses as well. And even though you may not think you’ve been exposed, this can happen where you might not expect it.
For example, many farmers are exposed to toxic gasses that can be emitted from pesticides and herbicides. Additionally, fumes from diesel fuel used in equipment and machinery such as tractors and harvesters can also result in respiratory issues.
Perhaps the biggest concern when it comes to respiratory health is the exposure to dust, mold, bacteria and other particles which can be inhaled. Such areas to watch your exposure in are inside grain silos, decomposition storage, compost bins, and areas where chemicals are stored.
Precautions should always be taken when working in dusty environments, or in areas where chemicals are being used or stored. As such, using appropriate PPE such as a respirator or face mask to protect you from inhaling harmful substances is always a recommended practice.
As a farmer, you are part of the long industry chain responsible for feeding the country and several other parts of the world. And if your health is compromised, you’ll not only find yourself out of work, you may also have to spend thousands of dollars on medical expenses. As such, taking your health seriously and becoming knowledgeable of the risks involved is going to be your best defense.