Sep 30, 2014
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Money-Saving Tip: Don’t Short-Change Your Farm on Safety

March 1, 2014
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Editor's note: We’ve gathered several experts to offer suggestions on trimming expenses in light of tighter margins in 2014. This is one of 10 money-saving tips.

Every year, farming accidents injure thousands of employees and family members -- and kill hundreds more. You may already know that agriculture is the nation’s most hazardous industry. But did you know that injury rates are highest among children age 15 and younger and adults over 65? Or that most farm accidents and fatalities involve machinery?

Whether you’re a grain grower expecting tighter margins or a dairy producer pushing production to take advantage of strong milk prices, be sure to keep farm safety precautions high on your priorities list this year. No one wants the human toll or the financial losses that come with farm accidents.

In 2012, the fatality rate for agriculture workers was 21.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, the highest of any industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Between 2003 and 2011, 5,816 agricultural workers died from work-related injuries in the U.S.

Today, tractor rollovers are the single deadliest type of injury incident on U.S. farms, OSHA says. Tractor deaths tell only a small part of the story, because for every person killed in a tractor incident, four people are non-fatally injured in tractor overturns. Dangers exist from improperly hitching a tractor, using steer skidders incorrectly, carbon monoxide poisoning, and clothing and hair entanglement in improperly guarded moving parts.

OSHA recommends these safety recommendations for tractor and harvester hazards:

• Since harvesting equipment may be used once a year over relatively few days, re-familiarize yourself with the equipment by inspecting it and reviewing proper operating procedures.

• Adding harvesting equipment to tractors can change the balance of the vehicle and requires operators’ constant attention.

• Plan harvesting so that equipment travels downhill on steep slopes to avoid overturns. Space tractor wheels as far apart as possible when operating on slopes.

Here are other steps you can take to stay safe on your farm:

• Improve farm safety by first increasing your awareness of farming hazards. Make a conscious effort to prepare for emergency situations, including fires, vehicle accidents, electrical shocks from equipment and wires, and chemical exposures.

• Discuss safety hazards and emergency procedures with your employees and family members.

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