Indiana Labor Newsletter Offers Ag Safety Tips

With the U.S. corn harvest in full swing this month, reminders about safety in grain bins are particularly timely. Last year, Indiana recorded 22 fatalities in agriculture-related operations, more than any other industry in the state.

The U.S. corn harvest is well underway this month, making the September/October issue of the Indiana Labor Insider newsletter especially timely. The third and fourth pages of the newsletter are devoted to safety in agriculture, which accounted for more fatalities in 2010 than any other industry in Indiana. The issue is topped by a message from Labor Commissioner Lori Torres discussing the state’s occupational fatality numbers: They fell from 125 in 2009 to 115 in 2010.

"For ten families, this was life changing," Torres writes. "And last week, we released our injury and illness statistics demonstrating that, while we stayed steady at 4.3 workers per 100 with recordable injuries, in the traditional industries where IOSHA and INSafe have been putting resources, there is a general trend towards safer workplaces."

The 2009 total of 115 fatalities was the lowest reported for Indiana since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries began in 1991. Agriculture-related industries had 19 percent of the fatalities, with most of them occurring in crop production. Transportation and warehousing and construction both had 15.7 percent. Manufacturing was fourth highest at 11.3 percent.

Indiana farmers produce about 8 percent of the total U.S. corn crop, according to the Department of Agriculture; the harvest season is in full swing in October and ends in November.

The newsletter discusses the safety and health hazards to which farm workers may be exposed, including exposures to chemicals and pesticides, moving machinery and equipment, highway traffic, electricity, and grain bins.

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