This past Wednesday, the Barton County Farm Bureau held their annual Farm Safety Day at the College for area high school juniors and seniors. Hopefully, you have read the article in the March 7th edition of the Tribune. Anyone around farming or ranching understands the potential dangers inherent in the industry, but just how dangerous is it?
According to an article published last September, the most dangerous occupation in the U.S. is the area of fishing and related workers with 121 deaths per 100,000 workers. Other more dangerous occupations include logging, aircraft pilots, refuse collectors, roofers, and high iron workers. Then comes agriculture at number seven with 25 deaths per 100,000 workers and 260 fatal injuries for the last year reported of the study. The number of fatalities is higher than any other group in the top ten except truckers at 759. The numbers mean two things; agriculture is much safer now than even ten years ago and agriculture along with trucking have the most deaths in the top ten since those occupations have the most people working in them. Fortunately agricultural jobs were nowhere near the top ten in terms of stress.
The presenters did a good job as did the Farm Bureau in putting on the event. There is no need to go into detail on the presentations except to point out how times have changed. Twenty years ago, no one would have guessed what texting was, let alone that texting while driving is a major safety concern. The other area that’s changed is tractor and equipment safety. Doug Barret from Straubs using a tractor and baler as a teaching tool went over the potential hazards of working around equipment. What has dramatically changed is the level of safety built into modern farm equipment. The farm equipment industry has made great strides in manufacturing equipment that when properly used is about as safe as can be made when considering what it does.
One key component in staying safe in any environment, not just work, is complacency. The more we do something and the more familiar we are with our surroundings, the more careless we tend to be. Combine this with tiredness from working long hours and the rush of completing tasks ahead of weather; we are often the determining factor in our safety.
The value in events like Ag Safety Day isn’t just the information; it’s in helping remind students of the need to pay attention.