National Farm Safety and Health Week

Press & Standard Article
September 2012
Marion Barnes, County Extension Agent
Clemson University

A Family Affair September 16-22, 2012 

In 1944 President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the third week in September as National Farm Safety Week. Safe farming practices are still as important today as they were in 1944. Today we recognize this time to call attention to the hazards faced by farmers and ranchers as they provide food and fiber for our nation and the rest of the world. Although agriculture has made tremendous advances since 1944 in efficiency, productivity and technology, farming and ranching remains one of the most hazardous industries in the United States.

The focus for this year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week is - Farm Safety- A Family Affair.  Since many farm families live on the farm and often share in the work, farm family members are at high risk for fatal and non-fatal injuries, work related diseases and illnesses, noise-induced hearing loss, prolonged exposure to the sun and issues associated with pesticide exposure. Statistics indicate that children under the age of fifteen and senior farmers over the age of sixty-five are at special risk for injuries on the farm. According to recent data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are more than one million children under the age of twenty living, working or having a regular presence on farms in the United States and more than fifty percent of these children also perform work on the farms. As recent as 2009, an estimated sixteen thousand one hundred children and adolescents were injured on farms and thirty four hundred of these injuries were due to farm work. Twenty- three percent of the fatal injuries to youth on U.S. farms involved machinery, including tractors; nineteen percent involved motor vehicles, including ATV’s; and sixteen percent were due to drowning. These grim statistics make it very clear that farms can be a dangerous place for our families to live and work ….. but they do not have to be!!  

Religious leaders sometimes remind us that “a family that prays together stays together.” One could add that a family that practices safety together will be much less likely to suffer the loss and heartache that would be experienced in the event of a serious farm accident. The following are a few suggestions that may help make our farming operations safer for family members and employees:

  • Discuss safety issues with your family (and employees). If someone has an accident or “near- miss”, discuss how and why it happen and what should be done to prevent a recurrence.
  • Teach children the safe way of doing things around the farm from the beginning. In other words be a good safety role model. Then they will be more likely to make safety a habit!
  •  Make sure children are completing age appropriate tasks. Assign chores to children that are within their ability to perform safely. Just because a child reaches a certain age does not mean they have the mental or physical skills to complete the task safely.
  • Encourage family members to note and report hazards around the farm. A “hazard hunt” can be fun, instructive, and possibly prevent a serious accident or fire. Educate your children on all aspects of the farming operation and explain why some areas of the farm can be dangerous
  • Prepare for emergencies. Develop a plan for what happens in various kinds of emergencies on the farm. For example, what should be done in case of fire or where to take shelter during severe weather, who to contact for emergency assistance in case of sudden illness or a serious farm accident involving an injury.
  • Compile a library of safety information and have an up-to-date medical guide with a good first-aid section. 
  • Encourage family members (and workers) to attend classes, seminars, demonstrations and other educational programs to improve safety knowledge and job skills. Youths should take part in 4-H and FFA safety programs.

 

Farm safety week last only 7 days but farm families are encouraged to practice safety 365 days a year!!    

Information from this article was taken in past from The American Society of Safety Engineers and the National Safety Council