A recent study by Penn State researchers revealed agriculture-related injuries are more numerous than previously known. From 2015-2019, more than 60,000 people were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal, agricultural-related injuries.
The journal of AgroMedicine recently published findings that revealed most injuries in agriculture occurred from April through September. The most common injury was fracture, followed by open wound or amputation. The primary source of injury was in the “vehicles” category, with tractors being the dominant vehicle type.1
The majority of small farms are run by family members, friends, and farmhands. In these types of settings, formal safety training typically does not occur but this is where a majority of incidents happen. Some of the most common injuries, illnesses, and fatalities can happen due to the following:
- Tractor overturns are the most common and result in injury or death. Fatality and serious injury can be prevented when a roll bar is in place during the overturn.
- Falls happen most often when workers attempt a task alone or without the proper equipment. It is no wonder it is one of the most common injuries seen in the ER.
- Entanglements and amputations can occur when clothing or hair gets caught in machinery. Always turn off the machine before beginning repair.
- Heat stress can occur when workers don’t take enough breaks to cool off and hydrate properly. A heat stroke can be fatal.
- Suffocation can occur if a worker is entrapped in flowing grain. It takes 10 seconds to become entrapped and 25 seconds to be completely submerged. Always wear a harness, never work alone, and Never enter a bin while the auger is running.2
- Chemical and pesticide exposure occurs when a worker is not wearing the proper protection when handling chemicals.
- Animal-related injuries are especially dangerous when young children are involved. Remind children to keep a safe distance, approach animals calmly and slowly and to never enter pens or corrals without an adult present.
Safety is more than just following the rules, it saves lives. It is an investment in the present and future success of your operation.
The SW Ag Center created the Home Safe Home series to help promote a culture of safety on farms and ranches, especially those owned and operated by families.
We often hear producers say, “it won’t happen to me.” However, injuries happen far too often to workers who said those same words. Workers can prevent tragic outcomes by preparing for the worst-case scenarios. The goal of this video series is to help other agricultural producers identify the unnecessary risks they are taking and make changes before tragedy strikes.
The Home Safe Home discussion guide, that accompanies these videos, is designed to facilitate conversations with peers, colleagues, friends, and/or family about safety in the agricultural setting. SAFE (Stop, Alert, Foster, Encourage) is a 4-part framework that can help guide a fruitful discussion around safety culture on the farm or ranch.