The American farmer provides the world’s feed, fuel and fiber, some of our most basic needs. But farming is also one of the most dangerous occupations. A recent article cited 26.4 farming deaths per 100,000 per year. Some studies ranked farming as the most dangerous occupation even over mining and construction. Though there have been a multitude of safety devices to prevent on farm accidents, we still hear of tragic deaths or severe life changing injuries each year.
Occupational hazards for farmers are across the board. Every one of you are a Jack of all trades. Each season brings you to tasks that you haven’t done for a few months. Mechanical moving parts on a variety of farm machinery often are equipped with safety shields, but when the bearing or shaft goes out, all these get stripped down to get to the problem.
Pulling into and out of various fields for tillage, planting and harvesting exposes you and your farmhands to road traffic and power lines up above that aren’t thought about any other time. Pesticide mixing and application add additional risks as you well know. Part time employees used during harvest time aren’t as used to your equipment as you are. Grain bins and manure pits also require careful thought while checking, cleaning, filling or emptying. Financial and weather related stresses both add mental challenges to all these and can dull your awareness.
Tractor related fatalities are the most common accidents despite newer safety devices. Rollovers and tractor/car accidents account for most of these. Use of tractor seat belts would have substantially reduced most of these fatalities. Other farm machinery such as combines, other harvesting equipment and other mechanical equipment with moving parts account for high numbers injury or death as well. A PTO shaft running at 540 rpm’s is turning nine rotations a second. Loose clothes can be grabbed and pulled in less than a blink of an eye.
Spend some time this winter reviewing your farm’s safety needs. Develop a safety plan for each area of concern: Tractors, mechanical equipment, harvesters, storage bins and areas, sprayers, and chemicals. Post, review and brainstorm these plans with your employees and family.
Practice Safety First and advise your employees and family to do the same! Please, BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!!
Written by: Kent Davis; Johnston, Colorado
Featured Image by: Bill Meier, John Deere 4730 Sprayer and Tanker Power, Flickr.com