It might seem like an idyllic environment in which to work, but modern farming carries far more risks to health and safety than just avoiding angry bulls. As well as the wide range of chemicals and by-products of farming, respiratory disease is a major occupational health risk for those working in agriculture with an incidence of occupational asthma several times the national average. Dusts created by agriculture can be complex mixtures of organic and inorganic materials such as fungal spores, bacteria, endotoxins, mites, animal faeces and dust. When these dusts are inhaled they can trigger allergic reactions in the respiratory systems of some people, and if this happens, any subsequent exposure – even to very small amounts – may produce symptoms.
There is a wide range of substances hazardous to health which are commonly used in farming today. Below are some examples:
- Pesticides, medicines and feed additives
- Fertilisers and soil improvers
- Dust from plants, animals and composted and fermented materials
- Paints, oils, lubricants, brake fluids and detergents
- Diseases from animals
- Vehicle exhaust fumes
There are a range of control measures to avoid illness and injury when working in an agricultural environment.
- Filtering air supplies to vehicles
- Ensuring suitable dust extraction machinery is in place
- Fresh air blowers
- Protective equipment for skin
If workers are exposed to agricultural dusts they should be monitored under suitable health surveillance – this is a legal responsibility of their employer. Advice on suitable measures can be provided by an occupational health professional; the precise form of surveillance will depend on the particular circumstances of the exposure (the level, frequency and duration) which should be indentified by an appropriately detailed risk assessment.
What if I have suffered due to my work in agriculture?
If you or someone close to you has been injured or made unwell by exposure to harmful materials during their employment in agriculture, you should contact one of our solicitors. They have years of experience in dealing with these types of situations and will swiftly be able to tell you if you are entitled to make a claim for compensation. Employers not only have a duty of care over their employees, they also have to have the correct sort of insurance for if things do go wrong. Call us today and see if we can help you get the compensation you deserve.