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American Society of Safety Engineers Offer Tips to Prevent Agricultural Injuries And Illnesses

Posted in on Wed, Aug 13, 2008

Des Plaines, IL (August 13, 2008) — With the growing season in full swing and Farm Safety and Health Week approaching on September 21-27, 2008, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) urge all agricultural workers to be safe at work and offer several safety and health tips to help prevent tragic injuries and illnesses on farms that occur each year. ASSE also suggests safety tips aimed at protecting young farmers.

There were 655 workplace fatalities for the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industries in 2006, according do the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most farm-related accidents are caused by machinery, with tractor accidents accounting for a high rate of fatalities. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), every day, about 243 agricultural workers suffer lost-work-time injuries, and about five percent of these injuries result in permanent impairment. Agriculture is also one of the most dangerous industries for young workers.

“Despite engineering advancements, the leading cause of farm deaths are still caused by tractor overturns,” said ASSE Director of Member/Regional Affairs and agricultural safety specialist Dr. Terry Wilkinson. “To prevent fatalities from tractor overturns, operators should always combine wearing seatbelts with the use of rollover protective structures. However, in low clearance situations, some farmers use rollover protective structures that are lowered to a non-protective position.”

According to a recent article in ASSE’s Professional Safety Journal titled “Agricultural Safety Systems,” in order to protect tractor operators in low clearance cases, NIOSH researchers have developed a passive safety device called AutoROPS, which is a prototype telescoping rollover protective structure that automatically positions. For a copy of the article visit http://www.asse.org/professionalsafety/pastissues/053/06/McKenzieFeature_0608.pdf.

Wilkinson added, “Following simple farm safety tips to protect workers can prevent many farm-related injuries and illnesses.”

ASSE offers these following safety tips:
o Develop an awareness of hazards on the farm and prepare for emergency situations including machinery entanglements, fires, vehicle collisions, electrical shocks from equipment, and adverse health effects from chemical exposures.
o Reduce the risk of injury and illness with preventive measures. Read and follow instructions in equipment operator’s manuals. Follow instructions on product labels for safe use, handling, and storage.
o Conduct routine inspections of your equipment to determine problems and potential failures that may contribute to or cause an injury. Properly maintain tools, buildings, and equipment.
o Conduct meetings with employees and family members to assess safety hazards, discuss potential accident situations, and outline emergency procedures.
o Provide approved rollover protective structures (ROPS). ROPS are compartment structures (usually cabs or frames) intended to protect equipment operators from injuries caused by vehicle overturns. Use seat belts while the tractor is in operation on tractors equipped with a ROPS.
o Make sure guards for farm equipment are put back on after maintenance to protect workers from moving machinery parts. Also, keep all equipment at least 20 feet from any overhead power lines or wires that support poles.
o Review material safety data sheets and labels that come with all chemical products.
o Communicate information concerning hazards to all workers. Prevent pesticide poisonings and dermatitis caused by chemicals by ensuring that protective measures recommended on the labels are taken.
o Take the necessary precautions to prevent entrapment and suffocation caused by unstable surfaces of grain storage bins, silos, wagons and other storage structures.
o Be aware that methane gas, carbon dioxide, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide can be present in manure pits in quantities sufficient to cause asphyxiation or explosion.
o Farmers are at great risk of contracting respiratory problems due to the amount of dust and chemicals they breathe in on a daily basis. Wearing protective equipment, which is readily available, can prevent acute and chronic respiratory illnesses. Protective equipment such as mechanical filters and chemical cartridge masks are air-purifying respirators that help protect lungs from harmful gases and dusts.

As most farms do not fall under the auspices of OSHA rules and regulations, ASSE urges farmers to train all workers including young farmers well in all aspects of farming, including safety. Children are at special risk from farm-related accidents. Most of the 200 plus deaths among children on farms result from being innocent bystanders or passengers on farm equipment. Surveys indicate that many farm children are working in dangerous environments by the age of 10. Young farmers can enroll in a local farm safety camp, often sponsored by the local County Extension Service, a university, or Farm Bureau.

To learn more information about agricultural safety and health and to view ASSE’s farm safety facts for rural areas, farm safety and health tips, and farm safety tips for young workers visit www.asse.org/newsroom.

Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the largest and oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor and education. For more information please go to www.asse.org.



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