"Many tragedies occurring on farms can be prevented by taking the proper measures. Farm hazards can be identified and corrected by utilizing a farm hazard checklist," said Dr. Terry Wilkinson, ASSE director of member/region affairs and agriculture safety specialist. "We urge farmers to contact their state or local cooperative extension or farm bureau office, which provide programs such as farm safety camps, resources, training, and more aimed at preventing farm-related injuries."
There were 659 workplace fatalities for the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industries in 2004, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most farm-related accidents are caused by machinery, with tractor accidents accounting for a high rate of fatalities. Agriculture is also the most dangerous industry for young workers.
"Farmers should familiarize themselves with the equipment operator's manual, the best source for information for preventing tractor and farm equipment-related injuries and fatalities," added Wilkinson. "Conducting regular equipment inspections can also help prevent farm-related injuries by detecting and fixing equipment problems before use."
Some of the tips ASSE offers to assist the farming community include developing an awareness of hazards on the farm, conducting routine inspections of your equipment, providing approved rollover protective structures (ROPS) and reviewing material safety data sheets that come with all chemical products. In addition, ASSE advises farmers to wear respiratory protective equipment since they breathe a large amount of dust and chemicals on a daily basis and are vulnerable to respiratory infections.
Protecting Young Farmers
ASSE also offers tips for parents of young farmers and for young farmers themselves to help them learn about safety issues in farming. Since many farms do not fall under the auspices of OSHA or Department of Labor rules and regulations, ASSE urges parents to take responsibility of teaching their children about the safety risks associated with farming.
Nearly 2 million children live or work on farms, and on average, more than 100 children die every year from farm-related accidents, according to statistics gathered by ASSE.
To assist young workers and their parents, ASSE developed a free brochure titled "Workplace Safety Guide for New Workers", available at www.asse.org/naosh, which provides tips on how young workers and parents can identify workplace hazards.