Farming remains one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S.
There were 655 workplace fatalities for the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industries in 2006, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, every day about 243 agricultural workers suffer lost-work-time injuries, and about 5% of these injuries result in permanent impairment. Agriculture is also one of the most dangerous industries for young workers.
"Despite engineering advancements, the leading cause of farm deaths are still caused by tractor overturns," says American Society of Safety Engineers agricultural safety specialist Dr. Terry Wilkinson. "To prevent fatalities from tractor overturns, operators should always combine wearing seatbelts with the use of rollover protective structures. However, in low clearance situations, some farmers use rollover protective structures that are lowered to a non-protective position."
According to a recent article in ASSE's Professional Safety Journal titled "Agricultural Safety Systems," in order to protect tractor operators in low clearance cases, NIOSH researchers have developed a passive safety device called AutoROPS, which is a prototype telescoping rollover protective structure that automatically positions. For a copy of the article visit www.asse.org/professionalsafety/pastissues/053/06/McKenzieFeature_0608.pdf.
In addition, as most farms do not fall under the auspices of OSHA rules and regulations, ASSE urges farmers to train all workers including young farmers well in all aspects of farming, including safety.
Children are at special risk from farm-related accidents. Most of the 200¬ plus deaths among children on farms result from being innocent bystanders or passengers on farm equipment. Surveys indicate that many farm children are working in dangerous environments by the age of 10. Young farmers can enroll in a local farm safety camp, often sponsored by the local County Extension Service, a university, or Farm Bureau.
To learn more about agricultural safety and health and to view ASSE's farm safety facts for rural areas, farm safety and health tips, and farm safety tips for young workers visit www.asse.org/newsroom/safetytips/farmsafetytips.php.