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Another New York Farm Worker Dies on the Job

December 27, 2017 Workers' Compensation

New York City workers’ compensation lawyers provide representation to victims who are hurt at work and to family members of individuals who are killed on-the-job. Unfortunately, far too many injuries and fatalities occur within New York, adversely impacting the lives of workers and their families in many devastating ways.

Just recently, Syracuse.com reported on the death of a farm worker and on the serious shortcomings in safety policies that result in so many agricultural workers losing their lives within the state of New York.

Better Policies are Needed to Protect NY Workers

According to Syracuse.com, a young dairy worker was killed in November of 2017 at a factory farm in New York. The worker’s head became trapped in a manure separator machine. Unfortunately, this was just one of many tragic incidents that occurs on farms in New York each year. As Syracuse.com explained, even though farm workers and labor advocates have spent years trying to improve conditions at factory farms, dairy workers continue to be at significant risk of suffering preventable injuries and fatalities.

In fact, at the farm where the young dairy worker recently lost his life, problems have persisted for years. Worker advocates began conducting training at the farm about worker rights back in 2013 and helped a dairy worker to make a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which subsequently fined the farm $500.

Several years later, more problems occurred at the same farm. A worker was physically assaulted and fired after he had questioned management when called to work on his day off and the incident led to a charge of harassment for the manager (who was also the son-in-law of the farm’s owner).  However, the only penalty imposed for the manager was five anger management courses, after which the case was dismissed.

To try to respond to the ongoing health and safety issues, workers formed a health and safety committee and were subsequently fired for their efforts.  The farm workers, excluded from New York laws protecting the rights of workers to organize, had little recourse and the incident led to a lawsuit in which the workers are asking the court to declare it against the constitution in New York to exclude farm workers from important labor protections.  The case is still pending, although the New York governor agrees that it’s unconstitutional to exclude farm workers from labor law protections guaranteeing their right to organize.

It is not just one farm that is a danger to workers either. As Syracuse.com explains, records from the New York State Department of Health reveal that there have been 69 fatalities at dairy farms in New York alone from 2006 to 2015.  The rate of death is high for farm workers who are excluded from important workplace protections.

If farm workers do get hurt, it is imperative that they know their rights, just as all other employees must understand what protections are in place for them. New York City workers’ compensation lawyers can provide representation and advice to any workers hurt on-the-job who want help making a claim for benefits.