By Roger Johnson, president, National Farmers Union
Nearly 500 farm work-related deaths occur annually, according to a 2013 study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As farmers and ranchers are more active on and around their operations this time of year, National Farmers Union (NFU) is raising awareness about farm safety issues and best practices through a series of 10 educational videos, which are now available on the NFU website.
The majority of the population is multiple generations removed from the farm, and may not be aware of what it takes to be safe when visiting a local farm. Even the most experienced equipment operators can have an accident. Taking the appropriate precautions could make a life-saving difference.
The videos are intended to educate anyone that may be around a farm or ranch – from visitors and consumers to agriculture workers, farm families, and producers. Viewers can learn about potential farm hazards and the proper safety procedures to avoid farm-related accidents or casualties.
Understanding the dangers on and around a farm operation can make hazards easier to avoid and accidents less likely to occur. The most common causes of accidents and injuries on the farm are equipment, livestock and falls.
Tractor and machinery accidents are the leading cause of death in agriculture, accounting for approximately a quarter of annual farm casualties. It is critical that anyone working on or around farm equipment understand the dangers, practice caution and ensure the proper safety protections are in place (such as, retrofitting roll over protection on an older tractor or wearing a helmet on an ATV).
Farm accidents that result in injury also have a staggering economic impact for the agriculture sector. Occupational injuries in agriculture cost $8.3 billion in medical costs and lost productivity every year.
An unfortunate number of daily farm accidents involve children under the age of 20, while only one in five were working on the farm when the accident occurred. According to BLS data, 113 accidents involving children every year are tragically fatal.
NFU is hoping to reverse the rate of accidents and casualties on farms and ranches and in rural communities. By creating a free online education resource, they hope to spread mass awareness for the well-being of everyone who may step foot on the farm or travel a country road.
The topics covered by the videos are:
- General Safety
- Power Take-Off or PTO (the shaft that supplies mechanical power from a tractor to a farm implement)
- Roll Over Protection
- Grain Bins and Augers
- Livestock Handling
- Transporting Equipment
- Handling Chemicals
- Electrical Safety
- Behavioral Hazards and Child Safety
The NFU farm safety videos were created with the generous support of CHS Foundation, National Farmers Union Insurance, Hastings Mutual Insurance, North Dakota Farmers Union Insurance and Montana Farmers Union.
More information is available at nfu.org/farmsafety.