Farm Safety – Workers Compensation Laws

Workers compensation laws are designed to provide some degree of financial protection or help, in the event that any employee of a business and injured at work, no matter whose fault the injury or fatality may be.

These laws were introduced over time, as part of measures to help protect workers against employers, who often did not give them the protection they needed in terms of workplace health and safety.

Nowadays, most employers are more responsible, and not only comply with these laws willingly, but it is both a moral and ethical responsibility to look after the people they employ.

The nature of workers compensation laws, how much someone is entitled to, what the definitions of injury and fault are, and other considerations will vary from state to state, and country to country, but there are a number of basic principles that will underpin all these types of legislation.

These laws are particular relevance to all types of agriculture and farming businesses, given that there are significant risks the normal day-to-day work, some of which can be quantified and dealt with, other risks that are inherent in the nature of the work itself.

Workers compensation rules are designed to provide compensation to an employee or their family, and that employee becomes unable to perform the duties due to an injury or accident sustained during the course of employment.

There may be certain conditions as to how long an employee has to have been with a company or business before such policies come into effect, but even these will normally be fairly minimal, quite often round 30 days or so

Normally both an employer, and the employee, will make the contribution into the workers compensation fund that will be set up by a local authority. This is a contribution, akin to an insurance premium, and although not technically an insurance policy, workers compensation normally acts in a similar manner.

The main element of these laws is essentially to provide no-fault financial compensation to alleviate significant distress at the time of injury or accident.

There as will normally be some conditions implicit in any claim, again similar to an insurance policy.

These conditions will normally apply to the length of time within which a claim has to be notified, how the accident was reported or managed, and what the employee may be required to do by way of medical examination or assessment.

Payouts made through a worker’s compensation act normally done as a weekly wage, as apart from a lump sum. This in some ways is to keep the process in check, and provided ongoing compensation whilst injury or accident prevents employee working.

In the event of a fatality, then there could possibly be a lump sum payable, depending upon the terms of the scheme.

There is a normal requirement for businesses to have posters up detailing the nature of the scheme, and the fact that the scheme exists for the benefit of employees. Businesses may also have other obligations as to how to publicise the scheme, depending upon the nature of the company or the workplace.

This obligation extends itself to agriculture and farming businesses, although how the publicity and acknowledgement of the scheme works may differ depending upon local authority regulations.

The main obligation on an employee st normally to notify the employer of any injury or accident as soon as is reasonably practical. This is really relevant, even if the injury does not seem particularly serious at the time. Even a minor injury may get more serious over time, and if not immediately notified may invalidate any future claims.

All notifications should ideally be done or confirmed in writing, either by letter or e-mail, as would be the case in a normal insurance claim. This can make a significant difference if there are any problems further down the line by way of delaying or deferment of payment obligations.

There should also be an accident or incident book located in the workplace, where all accidents and incidents should be physically recorded. This is normally an obligation on the employer.

Farm Safety – National Government Resources Part 2

The federal government in the United States has a special place in being able to provide both federal and local advice and help with specific focus on the agricultural industry. This applies both to advice and guidance in a theoretical sense about all business activities, and in a specific sense to dedicated areas of the agricultural and farming industry.

Agricultural safety and health centres, come under the brief of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Health and safety on farms is a major issue, and this government agency focuses on research and policies regarding the prevention of all workplace injuries on a national level, including agriculture.

Agricultural safety and health centers take this work one stage further, providing help at a more local level, albeit still in a very wide geographical area. Some of the centres based in Washington, California, Colorado, Texas, Kentucky, New York and Ohio.

There are a few other centres as well and their work may even be subcontracted further down the line if necessary. The intent is to be able to provide more localised information and help on a geographical basis, and each center may decide on specific ways of doing this.

Their main role is to provide safety education programs, that take into account the broad locality of where they are based, and can thereby focus on specific issues that have a local bearing.

They are an excellent resource because they can combine both federal and local experience and policies, targeted much more specifically around the locality of an area.

The National Children’s Centre for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety is a dedicated centre, which as its name implies focuses on providing farm safety in relation to children.

Unlike a lot of other industries, the use of children and young people in agricultural work is still seen as a really good thing, providing valuable experience for young people in a safe environment, providing holiday jobs, and often lifestyle and community experience.

Many young people who work on farms also live there, either as part of the family who own the farm, or as part of a family who work there.

In any event, it is acknowledged there needs to be a special focus on how best to protect children and young people in terms of workplace safety, in ways that do not necessarily apply to other businesses.

This agency oversees that, and try to develop a framework that allows children and young people to grow up and be involved in the nature of the work in a safe and appropriate manner.

The United States Consumer Production Safety Commission is a regulatory agency whose focus is on setting standards for consumers to have confidence in, in terms of the safety of all products within the industry.

This agency tries to work closely with farmers and producers of agricultural products in order to achieve this. It is in everyone’s interests that consumers feel safe in the products they are buying, and this can be an ongoing challenge for the farming and agricultural industry.

The other main government agency worth mentioning is the Environmental Protection Agency. This agency has a broad remit to protect all areas of the environment, most notably the air, water and natural resources of the United States.

This agency has responsibility for overseeing and implementing laws and regulations that apply to pesticides and air and water pollution.

There can be heavy financial penalties if these regulations are not adhered to, and it can be a major challenge for many farms and agricultural businesses to make sure that all their business practices conform to current legislation.

The EPA should not be thought of as purely being a policeman enforcing government law.

It can also be a very effective resource for providing help and advice on what laws and regulations apply particular environment or area, and advising farmers on how best to meet their responsibilities.

Dealing with all types of pollution, either airborne or waterborne it is a responsibility that everyone working in the industry has, and in an ideal world would want to adhere to.

Business pressures can often lead to people taking shortcuts in the hope of getting away with it. This sadly does happen, although hopefully infrequently. It is important that all these government agencies work in a collective and collaborative manner in order to both support and regulate all farms and agricultural practices throughout the country.

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