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David Sparks Ph.D. Farm Safety
by David Sparks Ph.D., click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: October 02, 2017

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Federal and state statistics list agriculture as one of the most dangerous professions in the U.S. Farming is one of the few industries in which family members often times work and live on the same premises. This makes farm families at much higher risk for fatal and non-fatal injuries in the workplace, compared to most other professions. Based on recent USDA data, 476 farmers and farm workers died from work-related injuries, which resulted in a fatality rate of 26.1 deaths per 100,000 workers. Tractor overturns are the leading cause of death for farmers and farm workers. The most effective way to prevent tractor-related injuries and deaths is to make sure that tractors have properly installed and maintained rollover protective structures (ROPS) in place.It has been estimated that less than 60% of the approximately 4.4 million farm tractors that were in use in the U.S. were properly equipped with ROPS. It is also probably best not to have children riding on a tractor when the tractor will be in vulnerable positions for a rollover.

Based on USDA data several years ago, there were slightly over 1.8 million full-time workers in production agriculture on U.S. farms, and just over 1 million youth under 20 years of age residing on farms. Over half of the youth residing on farms performed some type of farm work, as well as an additional 230,000 youth that were hired to do work on farms.

Safety director Debbie Barba, is emphatic about the importance of a safety plan on every farm: “Every producer should have one whether they are in the livestock industry or grow crops. Safety plans are important, not only for insurance but it is also that investment in their people.”

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