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The agriculture industry is infamous for being one of the most dangerous sectors to work in. Farmers and people working in this field are facing high risks of injuries every day. There is also a sense of irony here because these valuable people who are responsible for ensuring the sufficiency of the world’s food supply, have little or no access to health care and experience poor diet and impoverished health statuses. This is the main reason why corporations employing hundreds to thousands of workers in agricultural farms and factories need proper corporate health and wellness programs.
Corporate Fitness for the Agriculture Industry
Farmers try their best to avoid the hazards that their workplace bring, just so they can earn a living. The workplace that they go to present potential health risks that can persist even after they have left the place. And this happens to them on a daily basis.
Therefore, whether small or large, corporations must provide proper corporate health and wellness programs that will help in the effective carrying of their employees’ tasks: ensure physical fitness and prevent possible injuries or accidents at work. Besides, occupational injuries and accidents are company liabilities so preventing them should be a company’s utmost priority.
Here are possible aspects where corporate health and wellness can turn out to be very beneficial to many agriculture-related employees throughout the country and the world.
Physical and Mental Fitness
The corporate health company can provide an extensive range of health care services to the employees through many things; such as annual medical and physical check-ups, treatments or therapies of current ailments, and determining and providing maintenance medications for farmers and other employees that need them,.
They can even provide a venue, like a gym, for those who want to work out and exercise. With a healthy body, there is a high chance of less sick days and absences from work. Production can, therefore, be expected to increase.
A well-conditioned body can also lead to better mental fitness which is also essential in the proper execution of tasks and responsibilities. Corporate health companies can even provide a specialist who will determine which employees are mentally fit for work, should the need arise.
Work hazards related to vehicular accidents are common in the agricultural sector where large motor vehicles like tractors and harvesters are usually needed in the fields. Corporate health can be of great use in preventing vehicular accidents by providing proper knowledge on vehicle operations as well as on what precautionary measures can be taken to prevent injury or accident.
The valuable knowledge that farmworkers learn may save their lives, and can they include the following:
- Tractors, harvesters, and all agricultural vehicles must be inspected on a regular basis for proper functionality before they are used and operated.
- Farmers and other operators must be trained on the proper and safe operation of all important vehicles, and must re-familiarise themselves on vehicles that are only occasionally used.
- It must be a standard procedure to stop the power take-off (PTO) systems when a farmworker dismounts from the vehicle.
- Precautionary measures to avoid accidents, injuries, loss of a limb, or even death, due to the improper operation of the truck’s PTO shafts should be avoided at all costs.
- Broken or missing shields should be replaced immediately.
- Workers should be prevented from wearing long hair or loose clothing which may be easily caught by the machinery which can lead to fatal consequences.
- No passengers should be allowed in the vehicle during operation.
- Persons that are not involved in the agricultural activity must not be allowed on site.
- Shutting down the engine of a vehicle when refuelling must always be observed.
- A standard hand signal system must be implemented whenever noise or distance prohibits verbal communication.
In addition to large vehicles, farmworkers also use equipment that can be fatal. These include agricultural machineries, hoes, knives, and other cutting tools. While these tools may seem simple, they also have the capacity to harm or cause serious injuries when improperly used. Here are some important information that corporate health companies may bring for the benefit of the workers.
- Workers must be required to wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and long hairs must be properly tied to avoid possible entanglement by the machinery.
- All tools, machineries, and equipment should be regularly checked and properly conditioned before use.
- Power tools should be grounded properly, have double insulation, with the guards or shields replaced if broken or missing.
- Farms and shops must be properly lit and spacious walkways should be provided to avoid potential injuries due to trips or falls.
There are many farmworkers who also experience illnesses due to constant exposure to heat. New farmworkers are put to even more risks because their bodies have not gotten used to the condition of the environment. In this situation, a corporate health company can advise the management to implement proper prevention techniques.
The simplest is through the “Water – Rest – Shade” strategy. Workers must remember to drink water every 15 minutes, even if he or she is not thirsty. They must be required to wear hats, light-coloured, airy, and comfortable clothing. They will need to rest in the shade once in a while. And they must also be trained to always pay attention to their environment and their co-workers in order to quickly respond to situations where assistance may be needed.
Chemicals and Pesticides
Workers in farm factories are constantly exposed to high levels of toxic chemicals and pesticides that can be detrimental to their health, especially when they collectively enter the body through skin contact or inhalation.
Different facilities in agriculture companies process different types of animal species, feed types, or kinds of manure. Therefore, they also pose different threats in terms of gases, particulate matters, pesticides, and chemicals that are handled by their employees. Workers are further exposed to health threats if they wash their hands or bathe in irrigation canals where pesticides and chemicals may accumulate.
Besides the standard procedure that companies must implement to eliminate the risks involved with handling chemicals and pesticides, corporate health and wellness may also aide farmworkers by providing them with experts that will give extensive hands-on training on the proper handling of these hazardous elements. They can provide a more extensive educational training for all employees; from proper labelling of chemicals, to suggesting how company farm or factory can be re-structured to become worker-friendly so that a healthier workplace can be achieved.