National Farm Safety and Health Week is recognized annually in mid-September. This year, the safety week’s theme is “Shift Safety Into High Gear.”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show the agricultural sector is a perilous one, with 258 fatal work injuries among farmworkers in 2017. To promote safe and healthy practices as farmers enter harvest season, the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety has designated daily themes for this year’s event.
Monday, September 16
Tractor and Rural Roadway Safety
Of the 258 deaths cited above, 103 involved tractors, which present risks if operators aren’t properly trained in their use.
Equip tractors with a fire extinguisher and first-aid kit. Inspect the tractor before each use and ensure that all controls, gauges and lights are working. Wear snug-fitting clothes, sturdy work gloves and boots, and be sure to tie back long hair and remove any loose jewelry. Drive slowly, watch for uneven terrain and look out for people, animals and power lines. Don’t attempt to climb on or off a moving tractor, and never allow someone to hang onto the tractor for a “ride.”
Tuesday, September 17
Farmer Health and Opioid/Suicide Prevention
One in 5 American adults experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Farmers and ranchers are not immune. Lack of control (typically due to weather), financial strains and personal losses, such as divorce or the death of a loved one, can create tremendous stress.
Unfortunately, stigma and privacy concerns can be barriers to accessing mental health services. To combat these barriers, AgriSafe offers tools at agrisafe.org, including an anonymous health risk assessment with personalized suggestions to promote occupational safety and mental health (though it’s not a replacement for visits with a health care provider).
Wednesday, September 18
Safety and Health for Youth in Agriculture
Keep your children and those visiting you healthy by providing and encouraging the use of sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats and hearing protection. Supervise children and be particularly vigilant with young visitors who may not understand safe practices around farm animals, chemicals and equipment.
Teach children what to do in the event of a fire, severe weather or other emergency. Never allow children to play in grain bins. Be sure to train older children in the proper use of farm equipment before assigning them any task. And always supervise children especially closely when they are new to a task.
Thursday, September 19
Confined Spaces in Agriculture
Secure silos and grain bins to prevent unauthorized access. Inspect and maintain augers and other machinery to ensure they work properly.
Never allow people to be in or around a silo or grain bin during its filling or emptying. When trying to clear a jam, stay above the level of the materials while dislodging them. If you become trapped in a silo or grain bin, stay near the perimeter and keep moving to try to “swim” to the top of the material. Internal ladders can serve as a lifesaving means to exit the silo or bin.
Friday, September 20
Safety and Health for Women in Agriculture
Educate yourself on the risks that women face around the farm, including chemicals that can be harmful to pregnant or nursing women. Agrisafe.org offers a fact sheet that highlights the unique risk factors women working in agriculture face along with practical solutions.