Keeping Farmers Safe
Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries, and it’s crucial that we keep our farmers healthy and safe. Refresh yourself on these farmer safety tips.
Farming in the United States is an integral part of the labor force and economy. In fact, according to Markets Insider, the US farming industry contributes to more than $100 billion to the US economy. And while there are nearly 2 million farms in operation in the US, farmers and ranchers make up just 1.3 percent of the employed US population (or around 2.6 million people).
However, farmers and ranchers face quite a few hazards on the job each and every day while raising crops and animals. Their work requires the use of equipment, heavy machinery, chemicals and long exposure to conditions like extreme weather, rural traffic, tractor interactions, hearing loss, heat and stress.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a webpage about agriculture safety that provides some important information. Some of its most notable facts are:
- The agriculture industry makes up about 2,038,000 full-time workers (as of 2018)
- In 2017, 416 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury, resulting in a fatality rate of 20.4 deaths per 100,000 workers. Transportation incidents, which include tractor overturns, were the leading cause of death.
- Every day, about 100 agriculture workers suffer a lost-work-time injury
- From 2008 to 2010, 50 percent of all hired crop worker injuries were classified as a sprain or strain.
- An estimated 266,000 youth were hired to work on US farms in 2014, and an estimated 12,000 youth were injured on farms in that same year.
Luckily the CDC also has a farmer safety webpage to bring awareness to the safety and health issues facing the agriculture industry. It includes the following facts about farmer safety:
- Farm life can be stressful for a variety of reasons, but managing emotional stress is so important. To help someone in emotional distress, (1) Ask; (2) Keep them safe; (3) Be there; (4) Help them connect; and (5) Stay connected.
- Tractors are both important for agriculture and very dangerous. In fact, tractor incidents are the leading cause of death in agriculture. Make sure your tractor has seat belts and roll over protection.
- Be prepared for an emergency because it can be the difference between life and death. Work with family, employer and employees to create an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for orderly evacuation and quick response.
- Confined spaces are dangerous spaces, as they can stir up dust and dangerous fumes. Make sure your spaces are properly ventilated and that you use the correct mask to breath safely.
- Your skin is the largest organ on your body, so make it a priority. Wear sunglasses, wear sunscreen, and wear pants and a long-sleeved shirt while in the sun.
The CDC article also notes that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has an extensive Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (AgFF) Research Program, which addresses the high risks of injuries and illnesses experienced by workers in this industry.
The CDC agriculture safety page also includes other agriculture resources like cost-effective rollover protective structures (CROPS), farm safety surveys childhood agricultural injury prevention initiatives and more.