As row crop agriculture gears up this spring for another production year and permanent crop growers shift into high gear, farm safety should remain front-and-center in the minds of everyone working in the farming business.
According to federal safety statistics, U.S. agriculture is becoming a more dangerous occupation in the U.S., according to statistics from Bankrate.com. Several years ago, Bankrate ranked farming as the 8th most dangerous job in the U.S. yet its latest figures based on 2014 statistics indicate that agriculture moved up two rungs to the No. 6 spot.
Bankrate’s Top 10 most dangerous occupations, based on 2014 figures, were: 1 - loggers; 2 - fishers; 3 - aircraft pilots and flight engineers; 4 - roofers; 5 - refuse and recycling collectors; 6 - farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers; 7 - structural iron and steel workers; 8- truck drivers; 9 - power line workers; and 10 - taxi drivers and chauffeurs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total U.S. workplace deaths totaled 4,800 workers in 2015; a 5 percent increase over the previous year. Despite the 10 lines of dangerous work, all workers were paid about the same - about $48,000 annually.
Top reasons for agricultural accidents, Bankrate says, include the personal toll from working extended hours and working with heavy machinery. While agriculture may be an old profession, Bankrate claims new technology overall has not made farming and ranching any safer.
Tractor overturns were the leading cause of death for farmers and farm workers in 2012, says the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The group says the best way to prevent tractor overturn deaths is by using ROPS - Roll-Over Protective Structures.
In agriculture, family members can be at a higher risk for injury as family members often work and live on the premises. In 2012, NIOSH says fatalities on farms claimed the lives of 374 farmers and farm workers. This is 374 too many in my book.
Perhaps making this even worse, 113 youth under 20 years of age died annually from agricultural-related injuries from 1995 to 2002. One-third of those who died were 16-to-19 years young.