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Workplace injury: Guidelines set to protect tractor operators

Farmworkers nationwide, including in Oklahoma, face an endless list of hazards every day. Safety authorities are particularly concerned about the number of fatalities on farms nationwide that are caused by tractor rollovers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, such accidents claimed 130 lives last year and caused many a preventable workplace injury.

In January, OSHA released a guide containing safety measures related to tractor safety to protect the operators of these dangerous machines. The guide focuses on the fact that a cage frame or roll bars are ideal mitigating measures to protect tractor operators, and employers must replace damaged devices after rollover incidents. Authorities also urge employers to provide farmworkers with the necessary safety training related to tractor operating and to ensure such training is repeated at least annually.

Training must teach workers to avoid transporting passengers and always to wear their seat belts. They should slow down when driving in areas where there are waterways, slopes and ditches. Inspections and maintenance services on tractors must be done according to a set schedule, and rollover protection must remain in place at all times.

Any tractor operator in Oklahoma who suffered a workplace injury might be eligible for financial relief through the state-regulated insurance program. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can provide support and guidance throughout the claims process. Benefits typically include compensation to cover all the medical expenses related to the injury. If the worker's injury caused temporary disability, the workers' compensation benefits would also provide him or her with a financial package to cover a portion of lost wages.

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