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Dining sites serve up illness risk for North Carolina farm hands

Researchers from Wake Forest University discovered that a large share of dining facilities built for farm workers present unhealthy and dangerous conditions. Of the 182 North Carolina migrant worker sites surveyed, at least 10 percent of the dining facilities failed to meet a variety of basic health standards. This puts many workers at risk of contracting a serious illness.

At a number of the work sites, workers did not have access to proper food storage or preparation equipment, which can cause food to become contaminated. If workers contract an illness, they face the possibility of being incapacitated rather quickly and for an extended period of time. Since agricultural work is largely seasonal, being unable to work for any amount of time can have serious financial consequences for workers and their families.

Of course, this study relates to migrant farm workers, which raises some important questions regarding workers' compensation benefits. Depending on the nature of a worker's employment, his or her employer may or may not be required to carry insurance to cover workplace injuries or illness. This can present a confusing and challenging set of circumstances for an ill worker in need of financial support.

Beyond North Carolina workers' compensation laws specifically relating to agricultural workers, a workplace illness claim may be complicated by a workers immigration status. If a worker is an undocumented immigrant, it may be the case that they are not legally employed. Unfortunately, this could create additional legal hurdles. As a result, the burden created by an unexpected illness might make it necessary for an individual to determine his or her options.

Source: ScienceDaily, "Inadequate Food Facilities in NC Migrant Camps Could Cause Illness," Jan. 17, 2013

  • Our firm has experience helping employees sort through the details of North Carolina's workers' compensation laws. To find out more, please see our Greensboro workplace injury page.

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