By: Nathan Winter, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, McLeod & Meeker Counties
Spring time may have finally arrived. The late spring that we are seeing in 2014 can increase pressure on farmers and agricultural professionals to work longer hours.
Although agriculture is safer than it once was, it still ranks among the most dangerous industries. Those working on farms risk fatal and nonfatal injuries, work-related lung diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases, and certain cancers from prolonged sun and chemical use. Many of the mechanical, chemical, and environmental hazards increase the risk of accidents. There were 476 farmers and farmworkers that died from work-related injuries in 2010. The leading cause of death for farmworkers is tractor overturns.
Unfortunately, we continue seeing injuries and fatalities in the agricultural area and often they can be prevented. Most everyone working in the agricultural area knows of someone that has been injured or has died as a direct result of a farming accident. Farm equipment is safer than it used to be, but there are still injuries and fatalities that can occur.
Often youth are utilized to help out with the farm work. Be sure to look out for their interests by keeping them safe. Always think of how to safely operate the machines and equipment you are running before you start and be sure to tell youth important information as well. In 2009, an estimated 16,100 youth were injured on farms and 3,400 of these injuries were due to farm work. On average, there are 113 youth less than 20 years of age that dies annually from farm-related injuries, with the most prevalent age group being those from 16 - 19 years of age. Of the leading sources of fatal injuries to youth, 23% involved machinery (including tractors), 19% involved motor vehicles (including ATVs), and 16% were due to drowning. Be sure that those working on your farm don't become one of these statistics!
Those using the roadways should also take extra precaution when driving because there will be numerous tractors and slow moving vehicles on the roadways. Often, older equipment does not have proper signaling equipment and larger new equipment takes up a large amount of the roadway. With the late spring expect to see more farm equipment movement at all hours of the day.
Exercise extra precaution when sharing the road with vehicles that have the slow moving vehicle sign on the back. Good luck with the spring planting and please remember to take things slowly and exercise safety in your daily work!
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/aginjury/