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Women face more risks to health and safety when working on farms

The majority of literature and outreach programs to protect agricultural workers is geared toward men. However, it is estimated that approximately 31 percent of agricultural workers are women. Due to Missouri’s heavy farming industry, residents may benefit from learning more about protecting the health and safety of these workers, especially female employees.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has extensive listings of the factors that can pose harm to the well-being of farm workers. Among these are the exposure to pesticides, potential chronic and acute lung infections, pregnancy-related risks, injuries posed by livestock, and the accumulated effects of repetitive motions. Along with the hazards posed by these working conditions, the often-isolated locations of these farms may make access to health care more difficult.

Women who work on farms may also face a higher risk of stress-related illnesses as well as mental health risks. The fatigue of farm work may also take a toll and render one less able to respond to dangers posed by livestock or environmental hazards. Pregnant workers face more dangers for both themselves and their unborn babies, including exposure to diseases that can cause birth defects or miscarriages. In addition, even washing clothing that has been exposed to certain chemicals such as pesticides can lead to serious harm for both pregnant women and their fetuses.

There are several agencies that supply health and safety information for all farm workers, including women. It is recommended that women who are employed in this field take as many protective measures as possible to ensure their well-being on the job. Missouri residents who have suffered a serious injury or illness while working on a farm or other occupation through no fault of their own are entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. A knowledgeable attorney can provide assistance in obtaining these often vital benefits in an efficient and timely manner.