Practice Farm Safety Year-round

Agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries, so take steps on your farm to reduce work-related accidents.

by Dani Yokhna
Tractor and motor-vehicle operation are the leading causes of injury and fatality on American farms. Courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock (
Courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Tractor and motor-vehicle operation are the leading causes of injury and fatality on American farms.

Although farm accidents have been reduced in recent years, they are still far too frequent and serious. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, agriculture ranks amongst the most hazardous industries. Approximately 476 farmers and farm workers died from work-related injuries in 2010. The leading cause of death for farmers and farm workers from 1992 to 2009 was tractor overturns. Approximately 243 agricultural workers lost work time due to an injury.

According to NIOSH, an average of 113 people younger than 20 years of age die annually from farm-related injuries. The majority of those who die are youth between 16 to 19 years. The most common source of fatal injuries to youth is machinery (including tractors), motor vehicles (including ATVs) and drowning. In 2009, 16,100 children and adolescents were injured on farms, with 3,400 of these injuries due to farm work.

Farm workers are also subject to non-fatal injuries, including noise-induced hearing loss, work-related lung diseases, skin diseases and certain cancers associated with chemical use and prolonged sun exposure.

Most farm-related injuries and fatalities can be prevented with appropriate safety measures. Often, nature does not leave a big enough time period to get the work done, so farmers and farm workers feel the need to hurry, but it’s important to slow down and think about the safest ways to go about your work. Also, make certain that all safety equipment is working properly and that you follow the appropriate safety procedures during operation.

Those at risk working on the farm range from young children to senior farmers. Often, youth begin farm work at a young age with little supervision. These youth can also be innocent bystanders or passengers on farm equipment. It’s an adult’s duty to look out for their interests by keeping them safe. Youth should be given age-appropriate tasks that they are able to perform safely. Always think of how to safely operate machines and equipment before you start and be sure to show and tell the young people as well.

For more information on how to protect yourself, your farm family and your farm employees during harvest season, visit the National Agricultural Safety Database.

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