The emergency crew doesn’t want you

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Farm Forum

The farmers and ranchers I know focus on work. They focus on faith, they focus on weather and they focus on their families. From my experience, rarely do the wonderful folks involved in agriculture stop and think, “I need to be careful when I drive over this rough field, move this trailer by myself or fix this with baling wire.” Dale and I have had countless conversations about safety, but it generally comes down to, “I’m fine. It won’t happen to me.”

As Sept. 15-21 is National Farm Safety and Health Week, take a little time for yourself to focus on areas that could contain potential hazards.

As those with farm injuries can tell you, it only takes a misstep or being in the wrong place at the wrong time to end up in the emergency room. Those working on emergency crews may be your neighbors, but they really don’t want to see you on a call.

Farm machines use fewer moving parts than the old steam engines but they’ve become more complex in other ways. Taking a guard off equipment may seem like a good idea at the time, but it can have deadly results for you or your employees.

Fields and pastures are further away from homes. If an accident happens, there is the possibility that a cell phone won’t get reception or the person hurt may not be able to get to a phone to call for help. The time between an injury occurring and when someone finds you can make a huge difference in your future. Think safety at all times, especially when young people are called on to help with chores.

The rate of fatalities in agriculture continues to decline, but it still remains the highest of any industry sector, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting fatalities decreased 16 percent to 475 in 2012 from 566 in 2011. This follows a 9 percent drop in agriculture fatalities in 2011. Fatal injuries in the crop production, animal production, forestry and logging, and fishing sectors were all lower in 2012. Despite the declines in fatal work injuries in this sector over the last two years, agriculture recorded the highest fatal injury rate of any industry sector at 21.2 fatal injuries per 100,000 FTE workers in 2012.

The most common types of farming injuries are:

Agricultural equipment injuries – an estimated 500 to 600 people die in tractor related accidents each year, with tractor rollovers accounting for the vast majority of these. Other machinery related accidents include those involving augers, combines, power drives, hay bailers, corn pickers, barn cleaners, trucks and other farm vehicles, ATVs and faulty tools. Farming equipment that is faulty or not equipped with the proper warnings and safeguards can lead to farmers getting crushed or entangled in the equipment. The resulting injuries are often serious and can include the loss of limbs and other body parts, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury or death.

Farm structure emergencies – such as silo and grain bin entrapments, electrocutions or falls.

Farm pesticides and other chemical poisonings, spills, fertilizer burns, fires, explosions, and toxic gas exposures

Farm animal incidents

As rural and urban areas overlap, consider those non-ag people who may be meeting us on a hill or traveling behind us on a gravel road. Farm safety means considering potential consequences. Last week a Minnesota couple in a vehicle struck an unoccupied farm implement along a highway. They were both killed when they hit the machine that was parked on the shoulder of a road and extended about 2 feet into the traffic lane.

As the details of jobs that need to be done this fall are on our minds, make sure to consider safety when handling the long hours and stressful conditions. Our jobs in agriculture demand a lot from us. Each of us owes it to ourselves to be safe and enjoy our way of life.