According to data from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), the agricultural industry has experienced the highest number of workplace fatalities in 2019 as of November. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has also determined that agriculture is the second most dangerous industry for workplace fatalities after coal mining.
“The leading causes of those deaths have been falls, crushing, or workers being struck by pieces of equipment, but historically agriculture is not the leader,” said AgSafe President and CEO Amy Wolfe. “When I see this kind of data, the first thing I think is that agriculture will subsequently be a higher priority for Cal/OSHA into the coming year as an industry of focus.”
On average, construction has typically been the industry that experiences the most fatalities on an annual basis. In light of agriculture supplanting construction as the most dangerous industry in California, farmers would be best served by reviewing their operations’ safety records and protocols. “How did this year’s season go? Did you have any injuries? Did you have any near misses? Were you, unfortunately, one of these 36 fatalities? And if so, what are you going to do differently for next year?” said Wolfe.
Agriculture will always be an industry that carries a certain amount of risk due to the nature of the work and the equipment that is involved. There are a number of resources available to assist agricultural operations to improve safety measures on the farm and help reduce the likelihood of injury.
“This is a great opportunity and an important reminder,” Wolfe noted. “It’s a chance while things are fresh in our mind to think about, what do we need to be doing differently in preparation for next year to ensure that all of our workers are going home healthy and whole every day.”
Listen to Wolfe’s interview below.