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Maryland Farmers not exempt from workplace accidents

When one steps outside the hustle and bustle of the Maryland capital and its surrounding cities, the rolling farmlands that provide food to many tables throughout the state spread out before the eyes. The farmlands that produce the bountiful harvests also employee many farmhands year-round. These workers put in backbreaking, sweat-induced hours to take the food from farm to table. Sometimes, the weather conditions, as well as the inconsistency of animal behavior and malfunctioning equipment, can turn these serene settings in places prone to workplace accidents.

A 37-year-old man in another state recently lost his life in February of last year when he accidentally drove into a manure pond on the dairy farm where he worked. A recent warm evening had melted snow and ice in the field and left most of the farm flooded. Around 5:30 a.m. he was driving his truck, loaded with feed for the cows, but he was unable to tell where the end of the feed field was and the manure pond began, resulting in the accident. He tried to swim to land, but he became disorientated and suffocated 70 yards from the truck.

After the man's death, officials with the United Farm Workers of America began to receive numerous calls from other dairy workers in the same area. The employees reported unsanitary and inhumane working conditions, along with many workplace safety violations. The biggest noted was that employees did not understand how to go about obtaining workers compensation benefits. This particular insurance is required by law for all employers to carry to cover their employees should an on-the-job injury or fatality occur.

Working in the field and out in nature is a calling for many, but workplace accidents can still occur. The Maryland workers' compensation program provides death benefits to individuals who were related to a deceased worker. Minor children and surviving spouses who were financially dependent on the victim may receive benefits to help cover the loss of financial support and end-of-life expenses. Consulting an attorney who is experienced with workers' compensation can help assist families in with this process.

Source: statesmanjournal.com, "Manure pond deaths raise concerns about farmworker safety", Audrey Dutton, July 17, 2017

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