Farmers and other agricultural workers are at high risk to experience injuries due to the nature of their work. According to the CDC, about 167 agricultural workers suffer a lost-work-time injury in the USA every day. Chemical use, sun exposure, use of heavy equipment, physically demanding activities, and potentially hazardous working conditions are just some of the contributing factors to the farming industry’s injury rate. When an injury occurs, the employee can often be brought back to work by providing a light duty job. Some agricultural companies may refrain from assigning a light duty job because they think the work is unimportant or because no light duty work is available.
However, when a farmer or other agricultural worker gets hurt on the job, it is always in the best interest of both the business and the employee to return the injured individual to work as soon as possible. Below is a list of light duty tasks that agricultural companies or farms can assign to injured employees. Employers should make sure to get physician approval and provide a written job offer letter to the injured employee before starting them on any light duty job. Workers should only perform duties within their restrictions.
- Bench work, such as sharpening tools or repairing small tools
- Clean small tools or equipment
- General errand running
- Grounds cleanup
- Weed or pest control
- Monitor livestock
- Hose off buildings or equipment
- Replenish paper towels and toilet paper to all facilities
- Do online safety classes
- Watch safety videos
- Perform site safety audits
- Train new employees
The above list is in no way exhaustive. Farms and other agricultural businesses may wish to provide additional light duty tasks to injured workers. We recommend scheduling a meeting between employees and supervisors to suggest transitional or modified work activities for injured workers. Those who attend the meeting should be creative and try to come up with as many suggestions of productive and meaningful work as possible. The physical activities required to successfully perform each task should be documented, as this will assist the treating physician in understanding the proposed work.