When an employee gets injured on the job in Massachusetts, they can usually seek workers’ compensation benefits. Still, certain workers are in risky occupations that require government oversight to prevent hazards in the first place. For some jobs, there’s a limit in how closely legislators and entities like OSHA protect them. This could be an issue when workers are injured or killed.
Farming is a prime example of an industry where oversight may be lacking. Given the inherent danger with this type of work — the heavy machinery, physical exertion, large tools and animals — accidents are common. Last year in Minnesota, an 18-year-old was killed in a farm accident. After being contacted by his mother, OSHA said a rider on a 1976 law prevented it from investigating. That rider exempts farms with 10 or fewer employees from needing inspections and enforcement for safety compliance.
Some lawmakers have tried to remove that exemption from OSHA’s rules. However, it remains in place. Agricultural work is among the most dangerous industries for workers. At specific risk are minorities who tend to populate a high percentage of these jobs. Groups dedicated to protecting workers lament this rider, but so far nothing has been done to address the issue, and employers know they are protected from accountability if farm accidents happen.
Regardless of whether OSHA will investigate a farm injury, it is important for someone who has been seriously hurt on the job to consider the future. A workers’ compensation claim may help with lost wages, medical costs and long-term problems that arise after an accident. Whether it was due to a fall, an equipment incident, a motor vehicle or repetitive use, discussing the case with a law firm experienced in workers’ compensation claims may help with the filing process.