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Workplace injuries: Farm workers face life-threatening hazards

Farm workers in Oklahoma are not always fully informed about the many hazards they face. Many workplace injuries could have long-term consequences, and many are life-threatening. Some employers in the agriculture industry neglect to ensure that employees understand the risks posed by grain bins and silos.

Along with engulfment and suffocation hazards, bins and silos used for grain storage also pose risks of grain dust explosions and lung damage due to dust inhalation. Safety authorities say engulfment is the primary hazard for workers who enter grain bins. Every year engulfment accidents are reported, and some victims do not survive.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration notes that engulfment can happen in the blink of an eye when workers walk on the grain in a storage bin, and also during attempts to clear grain that has accumulated on the bin walls. Safety authorities say the grain acts like quicksand, and they also warn against walking on or under bridged grain. When grain becomes moldy, it can become hard and form a crust-like bridge, which becomes an inconspicuous entrapment hazard.

Victims of agricultural workplace injuries in Oklahoma may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits, and an attorney with experience in assisting injured workers to obtain financial assistance can be a valuable asset. A lawyer can help with the navigation of the benefits claim, allowing the worker to focus on recovering and getting back to work. The benefits typically include coverage of medical expenses and lost wages. Families who have lost loved ones in grain bin accidents can pursue claims for death benefits to assist with the costs related to end-of-life arrangements.

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