Farm Safety

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“That will not happen to me” is the first thing every farmer thinks about farm-related injuries. I had the same mindset until this past week until I severely sprained my ankle, and now I’m in a boot and on crutches. For any agriculture operation, this could have a domino effect on day-to-day operations or future operations. For a small farmer, this could be detrimental depending on the time of year or the operating scale. Even though my injury is minor, it could have been a lot worse.

So Let’s Talk About Farm Safety!

Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Farmers are at very high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries, and farming is one of the few industries in which family members (who often share the work and live on the premises) are also at risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries, stated by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Who Is at Risk?

  • Approximately 2,038,000 full-time workers were employed in production agriculture in the US in 2018.
  • An estimated 893,000 youth under 20 years of age resided on farms in 2014, with about 454,000 youth performing farm work. In addition to the youth who live on farms, an estimated 266,000 youth were hired to work on US farms in 2014.

Fatalities

  • In 2017, 416 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury, resulting in a fatality rate of 20.4 deaths per 100,000 workers. Transportation incidents, which include tractor overturns, were the leading cause of death for these farmers and farmworkers.
  • The most effective way to prevent tractor overturn deaths is the use of a Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) with a seatbelt. In 2014, 62% of tractors used on farms in the US were equipped with ROPS. If ROPS were placed on all tractors used on US farms manufactured since the mid-1960s, the prevalence of ROPS-equipped tractors could be increased to over 80%.

Injuries

  • Every day, about 100 agricultural workers suffer a lost-work-time injury.
  • From 2008-2010, 50% of all hired crop worker injuries were classified as a sprain or strain.
  • In 2014, an estimated 12,000 youth were injured on farms; 4,000 of these injuries were due to farm work.

Resources

North Carolina Agromedicine Institute focused on making the day-to-day lives of farmers, fishermen, foresters, their workers, and families safer and healthier. If you have a specific safety or health need or simply need advice on how to make your operation generally safer and healthier, contact them. Services are provided at no or minimal cost. And, not to worry – the Institute is strictly educational – not regulatory or advocacy. They do not report any concerns to any agency – they give you information to correct hazards and improve health and wellness.

North Carolina Agromedicine Institute Programs

For more information about Farm Safety, contact Bryan Hartman, Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent, at bkhartman@ncat.edu.