Yes it is that time of year, and yes this is another plug for farm safety. Truth is, here at Farmers Union we care about your safety...deal with it. In all seriousness, we address the issue of farm safety because agriculture is still one of, if not the most dangerous industries in the United States. In fact, thousands of farm workers are injured each year and hundreds die. I know what you are thinking "Well, that will never happen to me." I hope you are right. Yet in the unfortunate chance that you aren't, here are some safety suggestions.
Prevention is key.
Obviously the primary goal of farm safety is to avoid an incident altogether. So what things can you do to achieve that goal? The first thing you should do is attempt to be more conscious of the potential hazards around you. If you're going to be working with machines, don't wear loose clothing. With the many moving parts, it's all too easy for a loose sweatshirt to get caught and tangled leading to serious injury or worse.
You also want to protect yourself against tractor rollover. Tractors are, by far, the most deadly equipment on the farm. Be conscientious of the terrain you are traveling on. This is especially true when pulling a heavy load. Make sure you have a proper Roll Over Protection System (ROPS) in place. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 95 percent of tractor fatalities could be prevented with the proper use of a seat belt and ROPS. It may sound silly, unnecessary, or quite frankly inconvenient, but it could save your life or the life of a loved one.
But it is not always about you. You need to educate those around you. Whether it is a young worker or a family member, they need to know how to be safe on the farm too. It is all too easy to assume that they know what you know when it comes to farm safety. However, statistics unfortunately show that a good number of victims in grain entrapments are under the age of 20. Not to mention, injury rates on all areas of the farm are highest among children age 15 and under. I know it can get busy, and there are too many things that need to get done, but please take the time and educate others. The loss of family members is time you can never get back.
Unfortunately, no matter how safe you try to be, accidents will happen. So you need to be prepared for them. This includes having emergency plans in place and making sure everyone in the operation knows those plans. It's important to know essential first aid techniques like CPR or how to stop someone's bleeding. What do you do if your skin comes in contact with ammonia, or other farm chemicals? Simply knowing these few things can save lives and prevent further injury.
Ultimately the more you know about farm safety and the many hazards on your farm, the safer you, your family, and your workers will be. It's not something to shrug off. You can't assume "ah it won't happen to me or my family, we know better." It's not about convenience or comfort. It's about safety. For the sake of your loved ones, I am asking you to be safe this planting season.