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Are Florida Farmers At Risk for Spinal Cord Injuries?

According to the National Ag Safety Database, farm machinery is a major contributor to agricultural accidents that lead to spinal cord injury each year. Studies show that tractor overturns, falls, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries on farms. In agriculture, spinal cord injuries are among the most serious personal injuries that occur. Many of these injuries lead to paralysis and even death.

Tractors pose a key hazard on farms. Defective tractors or improper use can result in rollovers or accidents in which the operator is thrown from the machine. Spinal cord injuries can occur if someone becomes trapped under a tractor as well. In addition to tractors, simple farm work such as farm maintenance or chores can result in falls that can lead to spinal injury. Research has proven that falls from as little as three feet can result in injury to the spinal cord.

Agricultural workers are using all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s) on farms more often today and these vehicles are still another source of spinal injury and brain injury in the farming industry. Riding ATVs at high speeds, using ATVs on very rough terrain and not adequately protecting the operator are all common causes of ATV accidents.

For farmers, spinal cord injuries cause serious problems. The medical costs of spinal injuries often exceed what farmers can pay. The recovery period for these injuries tends to be lengthy and in most cases, farm chores and tasks must be left undone during the recovery period, which can affect profits for many months to come. In cases of spinal cord injury, agricultural workers must either hire additional workers at their own expense or must relinquish some of their income by not planting crops or completing other farm tasks.

According to the National Ag Safety Database, there are several things that agricultural workers can do to reduce the possibility of spinal injuries:

*When on ATVs or tractors, always use the provided seat belts and roll bars.
*Never overcrowd farm vehicles
*Always start tractors and other farm vehicles from the seat, not from the ground.
*Use ATVs only on known terrain and at reasonable speeds. When operating ATVs, avoid hills and other unsafe areas and always wear protective clothing (including a helmet).
*Stay alert when working and avoid work when excessively tired. Use caged ladders and always only use ladders on an even surface. Wear sturdy shoes and protective clothing when doing any sort of agricultural work.
*Enroll in a tractor safety certification course.

Of course, even agricultural workers who do everything correctly may suffer injury due to defective farm equipment or due to someone else’s negligence. If you or a loved one have been injured because of defective equipment or due to someone’s negligence, contact South Florida attorneys today. The professional Florida attorney team at Flaxman & Lopez can help you understand your legal rights and can help you get the legal protection you are entitled to under the law.