The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that production agriculture is still one of the most dangerous in America with more than 500 annual fatalities and thousands of lost time injuries.
Fall harvest time is one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons of the year. For this reason, the third week of September each year is recognized as National Farm Safety and Health Week.
This annual promotion initiated by the National Safety Council has been proclaimed as such by each sitting U.S. President since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944.
National Farm Safety and Health Week is led by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, the agricultural partner of the National Safety Council. The theme for the 2021 National Farm Safety and Health Week is, “Farm Safety Yields Real Results.”
There are many layers to peel back when we think of safety and health on the farm. Farms have too many dangerous environments to list and most are encountered all while the mind is multitasking on the current physical activity, planning for what will occur next, and thinking about the ongoing needs of the family and farm tasks.
At a local level, fatalities and lost time accidents are fortunately infrequent but can and do occur. The most common causes of fatal accidents are highway transportation, followed by contact with equipment.
The most common causes of non-fatal injuries are contact with equipment, followed by falls and slips.
There are countless ways to avoid accidents or reduce the risk of one happening but it requires adopting an attitude of concern for yourself, family farming partners, and employees to become your farm’s leader in implementing safety steps.
Whether it is working with livestock or entering a grain bin, farm activities are dangerous and it is up to you to provide the equipment and resources needed to minimize the risk.
Maintaining and utilizing machine safety components and simply wearing a seatbelt might prevent an injury or death if an accident occurs.
No one ever expects the unexpected. Taking precautions is imperative. Road travel is more dangerous in the fall than at any other time of the year.
It gets dark earlier, unharvested corn blocks view in curves and intersections, the machinery is larger, and the review on harvest equipment is usually blocked and limited to mirrors or a rearview camera. Patience and courtesy are encouraged by motorists and machine operators over the next few weeks.
It is interesting how we have adjusted to living with COVID-19 while the number of confirmed cases continues to increase.
For most, it seems that the illness is temporary and health returns with time but for others, the lasting effects of the illness continue indefinitely and many we know have died.
I am not going to lecture about the vaccine but consider the decision to receive the vaccine, not as an emotional decision, but rather a decision like most other farm management decisions.
What is the opportunity cost of receiving it or not receiving it? From a farm safety perspective, consider the effect of being unable to work at a normal pace or at all if you encounter COVID-19. Consider the opportunity cost if your employees go down with it.
Reflecting on the 2020 theme, “Every Farmer Counts” it is important to recognize the multiple layers of mental and physical risk farmers, families, and employees encounter as they go about their day.
It is so sad that nationally and locally there has been an increase in suicide-threatening emergency calls this year due to everything going on, but thankfully they did call seeking help.
Fortunately, there is a number to call to speak with professionals before an emergency call is needed. The national suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
Take time to stop and evaluate yourself and identify the physical or emotional change in people close to you. Use this free opportunity if needed. Farm safety awareness is more than an idea, it is something we should live with.
Cost Share SignupCounty Agricultural Investment Program cost share reimbursement funded by the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund and administered locally by the Green River Area Beef Improvement Group will begin soon. Investments made through November 30 of this year are eligible. Call the Extension Office to be added to the application recipient list. Information on items eligible can be found at https://agpolicy.ky.gov/funds/Pages/program-portal.aspx.
Clint Hardy is the agricultural extension agent for the Daviess County Extension Office. He can be reached at 270-685-8480.