It’s time for a truly sobering blog entry. When the news of the death of a prominent farmer in my area came out last week, I knew it was time to write about farm safety. We’re in the middle of summer, in the throes of intense heat and humidity, and whether you’re a weekend-warrior gardener, a part-time farmer or a retiree caring for a whole lotta land, you’re impacted by the weather and the physical and mental drain that it creates. It’s easy to get tired, get lazy and get lax. Please don’t. Being mindful of your surroundings and aware of the hazards presented are essential to basic farm safety.
Farming is one of the most dangerous professions there is. Even if it isn’t your day job, you’re subjecting yourself to agricultural dangers and could be even more at risk because you might not be as practiced at some tasks as full-time farmers.
Here are some statistics from Farm Safety Just For Kids that might make you think about farm work from a new perspective:
- Tractors are the leading cause of death and injury on the farm.
- Rollovers are the most common type of tractor accident.
- About 125 people die in tractor accidents each year.
- A child dies in a farm accident every three days.
- More than 35 children are injured on a farm every day.
No matter how careful and mindful you are when working on the farm, there will always be dangers. There is no such thing as cows that don’t kick, perfectly even terrain for driving on and grain bins that never get clogged. However, you can take many safety precautions that are pretty common-sense but often not followed:
- Always use rollover protective structures and seat belts on your tractor.
- Don’t drive your tractor or ATV on questionable terrain, such as steep and slippery hills, and reduce speed when you must do so.
- Use the proper attachments and implements for the job.
- Don’t carry passengers on your tractor or ATV.
- Pick up debris before mowing a section of lawn or field.
- Stay out of grain bins and away from moving grain augers.
- Use power-take-off shields and keep clothing and hair away from PTO shafts. This is easier said than done.
Find more tips for tractor safety, moving round hay bales, operating lawnmowers, PTO safety, working around grain bins, play areas for children on the farm, and agritourism safety. And tell us what safety rules you have on your farm so we can all adopt better ideas!
You Know Someone
Last week’s local-farmer death was as the result of a lawnmower rollover, incidentally. Mowing the lawn isn’t exactly a task you think of as dangerous, but clearly, it’s worth more respect than it is given. I am lucky to say only four people I know come to mind as having been seriously injured or killed in a farming accident. Given the number of farm friends I have, this is a low number, I think. I am willing to bet you know people, too, and that’s all the reason in the world for us to take a moment to put safety first when we’re on the farm.