Safe can be defined as protected from or not exposed to danger or risk. Safety and wellbeing can come in waves when working in the agricultural field, as agriculturist we are considered to be among the most hazardous occupations in terms of health and safety. According to the CDC 368 farmers or farm workers died from a work-related injury in 2020, with the leading cause resulting from transportation incidents.
To help raise awareness the National Education Center for Agriculture Safety (NECAS) host National Farm Safety and Health Week. This year farm safety week will be held September 18th -24th. This week is designed to bring ag safety awareness to our farmers, farm workers, and our community members. Each day throughout the week NECAS will focus on a specific topic of safety ranging from tractor and roadway safety to safety and health for women and children.
Farm safety is an important topic for our industry, as a fifth generation to my family’s farm, I understand the risk we take each day to produce the food and fiber for our consumers. I believe farm safety awareness is extremely important especially for those individuals who have grown up in a farming family. In many family farm settings, the whole family is actively involved in the day-to-day operations, often times we become so comfortable in our setting we forget to be completely observant to the equipment we are running or the activity we are preforming which can quickly lead to accidents. Young children and women are at risk as often times they are asked to help with farm task and may not receive proper training or education of the operation being asked to perform.
When we think of farm safety, we immediately think of the risk of working with large equipment. While operating, loading, or moving large equipment is a major risk in our industry there are several other things that can put our farmers and ranchers at risk. Working with livestock especially large animals or new mothers, such as a cow with a newborn calf, can be harmful without proper knowledge of livestock. Gathering and transporting livestock if not done properly can cause a risk not only for the farmers but also the livestock. If farm workers do not reach proper training or education this can cause major risk to their wellbeing as well as anyone that is asked to help them. Individuals that do not wear the proper attire such as long pants or closed toed shoe can be at risk. Farmers or farm workers who do not wear proper personal protection when spraying pesticides or herbicides can also be put at risk. Many farmers or ranchers may have to move equipment on the roadway, without proper lighting or signage this can pose a risk to the operator and our community members. Within farming and ranching we experience a ton of volatility with the reliance on strong markets and favorable weather, at times it can even take a toll on farmer’s mental health. Mental health in the agricultural industry is one of the most under discussed risk farmers face. These are just a few examples of the many hazards farmers may be exposed to in their operations.
For more information on farm safety be sure to check out updates on UF/IFAS Suwannee County Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/SuwanneeAGNR