Farmers work in open environments and have tough working schedules. They’re required to perform strenuous jobs and are exposed to numerous health risks.
The National Centre for Farm-worker Health (NCFH) served approximately 1,031,049 migratory and seasonal farm-workers in 2019. Nearly 30% of the patients were migrants and 70% of them were seasonal workers.
The agricultural sector of the US significantly depends upon seasonal farm-workers, which is why their health should be an important concern for agricultural employers.
Let’s have a look at some occupational health problems of seasonal and migrant farm-workers in the US.
Pesticides are toxic and their prevalence in the environment causes numerous health problems. The pesticides that are extensively used in agriculture include algaecides, herbicides, defoliants, and insecticides.
Labor-intensive crops like vegetables and fruits require extensive treatment with pesticides. Since most farmers are recruited for harvesting jobs, they come in direct contact with pesticides.
Exposure to pesticides leads to acute systemic poisoning, which causes dizziness, nausea, headache, abdominal pain, and numerous eye or skin health problems such as corneal ulceration, rashes, and inflammation.
As mentioned earlier, farmers have long working hours, these problems often lead to chronic illnesses such as fatigue, anxiety, and chronic dermatitis.
Agricultural jobs involve heavy physical activity which causes musculoskeletal pain and soft tissue problems. For instance, traumatic injuries and joint diseases are quite common health problems among farm-workers.
Extensive physical labor such as heavy lifting and carrying causes back strain. Farm-workers are typically required to work at an excessively fast pace which involves whole-body vibration. Besides, they also have to work in extreme weather conditions. All of this substantially contributes to musculoskeletal issues.
Agriculture is one of the major industrial sectors which run the highest risk of occupational skin problems. Farmers tend to get more skin problems such as rashes.
Agricultural exposures have been documented to cause respiratory problems, such as asthma and bronchitis. Farmers have to work on farms and continual inhaling of dust particles often causes restrictive lung disease. Besides, agricultural environments also have respiratory toxins such as phosgene, ammonia, phosphide, and oxides of nitrogen.
Farmer’s lung, also known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis causes inflammation in the lungs. It’s the most common respiratory disease in farm-workers. This disease is typically caused by fungal spores.
Migrant and seasonal workers have limited access to health services. There are, however, numerous state government and federal programs to help them acquire healthcare services. To find a health center in your area, visit https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/. Employers should give utmost importance to the health of foreign temporary workers to ensure their safety and improve the farm’s overall productivity.
At Farm Aid H-2A LLC, we can help you recruit seasonal labor and obtain foreign labor certifications for them. Our H-2A employment agency has a demonstrated record of providing H-2A placement services. We work together with the US Department of Labor to help you cut through the legal complications easily. Contact us for legal consultation for H2A placement.
Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only. It shouldn’t be used as a substitute for legal consultation.