Agriculture is one of the biggest industries in Iowa and Nebraska. Working on a farm can be a rewarding and very demanding career. Between the long hours and the heavy equipment, there are numerous unavoidable risks in agricultural work.
Historically, agriculture has been one of the most dangerous professions both in terms of worker injuries and worker fatalities. Tractors, pesticides and ladders can all lead to tragic incidents. The more that farmers attempt to automate and reduce physical labor on a farm, the more they create the possibility of a machinery-related injury.
As farmers start looking to drones for pesticide application and seed broadcasting, the possibility has started to develop that workers will end up hurt by drones. How can you protect yourself if you will soon work in close proximity to externally-piloted flying machinery?
Discuss drone use with your employer
The more information you have, the easier it will be for you to keep yourself safe. Being out in the fields when the drone will start applying pesticides could mean an unsafe level of exposure, for example. Ideally, there will be work for you to manage in other areas of the farm when the drone is in flight.
Consider safety equipment
If the drones will be a frequent presence on the farm where you work, then you may have to consider wearing a hard hat or other safety gear in case there are accidents. You could potentially ask for safety training so that you and everyone else working on the farm can limit the risk caused by this flying machinery.
You may also want to verify that your employer carries appropriate workers’ compensation coverage in case someone gets hurt on the job.
Know how to get compensation if you do get hurt
Whether you suffer a traumatic brain injury caused by falling equipment or fall ill because of chemical exposure caused by a drone applying pesticides, you may have the right to financial compensation. Workers’ compensation may protect you in some cases.
There could be liability for the company that created the drone if it malfunctions due to poor design or defective components. Sometimes, the operator is to blame and could have personal liability for any mistakes they made. There could be several different kinds of insurance available and the opportunity to pursue civil action.
Recognizing that agricultural drones create new workplace risks can help protect the agricultural workers in close proximity to these machines.