Workplace Safety

Harvesting Apples on a ladder
Farm work continues to be one of the most dangerous professions in the United States, with an accidental death rate of 50 per 100,000 workers, disabling accident rates of over 5%, and the overall injury and illness rate at nearly 13%[1]. New York State’s migrant, seasonal and dairy farmworkers are estimated to number 80,000 to 100,000, with approximately 30,000 to 40,000 workers in the rural areas of Western New York. With an illness and accident rate of 13%, it is projected that over 4,000 workers in Western New York will suffer injuries and/or illness related to their work in the fields, packing plants, dairy farms, and other agricultural sites.

Pesticide Education Project

Our Pesticide Education Project provides outreach and education on pesticide issues to farmworkers and to agencies that work with farmworkers. Education focuses on issues of occupational chemical exposure and the standards that protect workers in the workplace. This work is funded through the New York State Department of Labor/Hazard Abatement Program.

OSHA Workplace Health & Safety Project

The Susan Harwood Capacity Building Grant supports training programs that educate workers and employers in industries with high injury and fatality rates, low literacy, young, limited English proficiency and otherwise vulnerable workers, and small business employers. It funds long-term programs that build safety and health competency within organizations.

The goals of the project include:

  • To assess the training needs of farm workers;
  • To develop the curriculum that best meets those needs;
  • To develop model training methods based on the demographics of the population, the type of work in which farm workers are engaged, and to utilize the models that will minimize the barriers faced by the migrant and seasonal farm work population;
  • To provide comprehensive training to farm workers; and
  • To create the training curriculum and delivery methods that will be used as a model to further develop and expand within the region.

The hazards to be addressed during the initial project will depend upon the results of the needs assessment. However, it is expected that the following topics will be covered: Heat exposure and exhaustion, exposure to damaging noise, slips and falls, muscular/skeletal stressors, farm equipment accidents, and chemical and pesticide exposure.

[1] United States Department of Labor,  http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/agriculturaloperations/recognition.html

Heat workshop

WJCNY staff conduct interactive workshop with farmworkers on prevention and treatment of heat stress and heat stroke

Heat workshop 2

Farmworkers participate in workplace health and safety taining to learn about their OSHA rights