Those who track farm injuries say grain bin accidents and wrecks involving all-terrain vehicles are increasing, while the number of children killed in farm-related accidents is on the decline. This is National Farm Safety and Health Week and Carolyn Sheridan — director of the “AgriSafe” program at Spencer’s Hospital — says operating a farm isn’t a “one-person show.”
“This involves the entire family many times or extended family members, so when we talk health and safety we need to…decide who’s doing the jobs…Maybe we’re asking somebody who’s young to do a job they’re not quite prepared for or maybe a farmer who’s maybe retired (or) slightly retired and they might be helping through the harvest season…What are we going to be doing different to keep those people safe?” Sheridan asks. “…Remember, throughout life we have different skill sets. You know, we may have a teenager who may be asked to do something different throughout the harvest because we need the workforce. So, what is our workforce made up of and what can we do make sure that we’re keeping them safe all through the harvest?”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, tractor roll-overs are the leading cause of death on the farm. Sheridan, who is a farm wife herself, counsels folks on the farm to ask questions. “And I maybe not have driven that tractor since last harvest and I don’t remember exactly what I’m supposed to do and we’re busy and maybe I don’t ask for the right instructions or remember those sorts of things,” Sheridan says, “or maybe that tractor seat isn’t far enough ahead for me and it’s hard for me to get those brakes and things.”
On average, about 112 kids under the age of 20 die each year from farm-related injuries. Sheridan says there are a number of things families have to consider in order to keep kids safe on the farm. “Do we have safe play areas? Are we taking them along with us?” Sheridan says. “What about after school? They’re coming home alone, you know are they’re going to look for us? — things such as that.” The latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows those working in the agriculture sector are in the most dangerous line of work in America. National Farm Safety Week was first established in 1944 and is held the third week in September.