Agriculture is one of Wisconsin’s most important industries, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. In 2011, 570 agricultural workers died from work-related injuries nationwide. This is seven times higher than the fatality rate for employees generally. This blog post will briefly discuss the factors making agriculture so dangerous and will also describe the workers’ compensation status of the ag industry.

What is the leading cause of death in the agriculture sector? According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the number one cause of death is tractor overturns. Over 90 deaths annually happened due to overturning tractors between 1992 and 2009. A device called a Roll-Over Protective Structure can prevent these deaths. If this device is more prevalently used, it could reduce the number of claims arising in agricultural workplace environments.

Agricultural jobs are not only more deadly than other jobs in general, they also cause more injuries. OSHA estimates that nationally, 243 workers suffer a serious injury every day. Of these injuries, about 13 result in permanent impairment. The injury rate is 40 percent higher than the rate for workers in other industries. According to OSHA, the workplace injury rate for all workers is 3.8 per 100 workers, while the workplace injury rate for crop production agricultural workers is 5.5 per 100 and the rate for animal production agricultural workers is 6.7 per 100.

Many agricultural employers are required to carry workers’ compensation coverage in Wisconsin. If an employer has six or more employees working on the same day for 20 consecutive or non-consecutive days in a calendar year, the employer must obtain workers’ compensation insurance for its employees. After the 20th day, the employer has 10 days to get the coverage. The six employees in question do not have to be the same people every day, and the employees can be part-time or full-time employees.