Safety needs to be top of mind for anyone on the farm. Statistically, farms are risky places. With an loss time accident rate of around 20 per cent, farming is one of the most hazardous occupations out there. So farm safety is very important. It’s so important that two separate organizations sponsor annual farm safety campaigns.
The third week of September is National Farm Safety & Health week, which is an educational campaign from the National Safety Council.
It’s a fitting theme. Motorized equipment are the major cause of many accidents on the farm.
Of all the equipment on the farm, the tractor may be the most useful, but it is also the most dangerous. The Power Take Off – the PTO – shaft is the most hazardous thing on the tractor. It maims or kills careless or inattentive workers. Never step over or on the PTO. Experts say to always keep your body away from the rotating PTO. Keep loose clothes away from it as well – if a sleeve or shirt tail gets caught, you will be pulled in with it.
Another danger with tractors is roll overs. These accidents kill farmers every year. A rollover happened just this week north of Sanger. The investigation isn’t done yet, but it appears the driver, a farmer of 82 years, got a wheel caught in a ditch while making a turn. The tractor flipped, landing on top of him. The tractor did not have a Rollover Protection System- ROPS – which could have saved him, provided he had used the seat belt to keep him in place during the rollover. Sadly, older tractors did not have ROPS and they are not mandatory for owner-operators.
While vehicles present many dangers, there are more hazards on any farm. It’s a good time to review your safety program, perhaps talk to your Worker’s Comp provider, or call in an OSHA consultant to help identify and control new hazards.
About the Author
Len Wilcox is a retired scientist who also ran a newspaper and has written for agricultural publications since the 1980s. He was a regular contributor to California Farmer Magazine. His commentary “The Western View” is a regular feature on Farm City Newsday and AgNet West.