|Duane A. Lienemann|
UNL Extension Educator
What a lot of people probably don’t know is that this coming week is also National Farm Safety and Health Week! I always correlate this National Week with the impending harvest season. Yes, our crops are nearing the ready and harvest is just around the corner. Harvest time also brings something else – a need for safety on and off the farm! Each year since 1944, the third week of September has been recognized as National Farm Safety & Health Week (www.necasag.org/) This recognition has been an annual promotion initiated by the National Safety Council and has been proclaimed as such by each sitting U.S. President since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first document. This year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week has been declared for September 21-27, 2014. I think it is important that we take a few moments to think about safety as we get closer to harvest and the time that we bring our cattle home from pasture.
The 2014 theme is “Safety Counts: Protecting What Matters.” The theme underscores the importance of us all working together to build a safer and healthier agricultural work place. In studies conducted across the nation, data shows the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 475 fatalities, which equals 21.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. Agriculture is more than seven times as hazardous as most other U.S. industries. Unfortunately the death rate resulting from accidents on the farm or ranch was 3.2% of all deaths when you compare it to the deaths occurring in a combination of all industries. The good news is that maybe we are getting better, or are getting luckier, as I believe there were almost 600 deaths and 70,000 disabling injuries attributed to agriculture in 2010 – just four years ago. The statistics are sobering. But even more tragic is that these incidents could have been prevented if simple safety precautions had been followed.
It should be noted that tractor incidents were the overwhelming majority of the cause of death, with more than 40 percent of cases. And the majority of the incidents were due to a rollover event. Other causes of fatality included equipment, machinery and wagons followed by livestock and all-terrain vehicles. There is a huge increase in the number of farm fatalities for people older than 40 compared with those younger than 40. The highest number of deaths is within the age group of 61 to 70. Farming is a family business, all ages are active on farms, from seniors to children. That means that preventing injuries is a family affair. Our families not only include the farmers, but old and young.
We all should be especially cognizant of the inherent danger to our young people. They are not experienced and don’t realize how dangerous it can be on the farm. Fortunately there are many simple practices to keep our children safe on farms. I am sure that most of you would consider these simple practices that can make a world of difference. These practices include things like: Do not let kids play in grain wagons, carts or semi beds. Be sure to have ladders and grain elevator legs high enough that children cannot climb on them. And as tempting as it can be, because “nothing has ever happened before,” do not allow extra riders on tractors. There is one seat for a reason. This is especially true during harvest season.
Here are some safety reminders for the coming harvest: Put fire extinguisher in every tractor, combine, and truck and make sure they are charged; Grease and check bearings to prevent sparks/fires; Remove dust and debris from radiator screens and other spots with high heat or air intake; Do not walk on grain in combine bins, auger carts, or trucks; Farmers with large machinery use hazards and turn signals when driving down roads and move over for cars to pass whenever possible; Cars – do not pass going up hills or at intersections (semis and trailers make wide turns) Be Patient!; Be cautious on narrow bridges or roads with guardrails – large machinery will take up both lanes; Do not pull out in front of trucks – heavy loads take much longer to get slowed down; Be extra cautious at unmarked intersections – Always Yield!
We all have loved ones, and they are what matter to us. Keep this year’s theme in your mind: “Safety Counts: Protecting What Matters.” Farmers and ranchers and all of those that work in agriculture, need to set some priorities to reduce the risk of injury to their self, their family, and their employees. Farmers put in many hours and accomplish difficult tasks. They operate heavy machinery, handle livestock, and work under hazardous conditions. Thank you to all of our farmers, ranchers, farm workers and their families, and all of our partners for working together to reduce the number of deaths, injuries, and health issues. And to all of our farmers who will be harvesting their crops, hauling grain to market, or working their livestock – Please make safety a priority. Make your harvest a safe one. We don’t want to lose you or anyone else! We want all of our family and friends to be safe. We do need to protect them and farm safety does count!
The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: email@example.com or go to the website at: http://www.webster.unl.edu/home