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AMERICAN SOCIETY OF SAFETY ENGINEERS URGE FARM WORKERS TO USE SAFETY PROGRAMS/PRECAUTIONS NOW TO REDUCE INJURIES AND ILLNESSES

With the harvest season drawing near and National Farm Safety and Health Week this September 18-25, the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE)  safety and health tips for agriculture workers and employers are aimed at helping prevent injuries and illnesses.  ASSE is also concerned  about protecting young farmers, who  are at a higher risk  of being injured on the job. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2009, approximately 1,783,000 full-time workers were employed in  the agriculture industry in the U.S.  During the same year, 440 farmers and farm workers died from work-related injuries, resulting in a fatality rate of 24.7 deaths per 100,000 workers.  Each day, approximately 243 agricultural workers suffer lost-time injuries, with five percent of these resulting in permanent impairments, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The leading cause  of fatal farm injuries was tractor overturns, which accounted for more than 90 deaths annually...click here for more

ASSE Farm Safety Tips

Grain Bin Hazards

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), grain handling is a high-hazard industry and workers can be exposed to risks such as fires and explosions, suffocation from engulfment and entrapment in grain bins, falls from heights, and crushing/amputation injuries from grain handling equipment.  In 2010, 51 workers were engulfed by grain storage in bins and 26 of those trapped lost their lives.  This type of tragedy can occur when workers walk on moving grain, which acts like quicksand, or when they attempt to clear grain bins.  Moving grain can bury a worker in seconds.  Grain dust explosions are also a high-risk element of working with grain.  Grain dust is combustible and will burn or explode if exposed to an ignition source.  For more information about grain hazards and how to stay safe, please visit http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/grainhandling/index.html for OSHA's tips.

Electrical Safety on Farms

Electrical safety is another major hazard on farms.  Regular electrical inspections are necessary to prevent accidents due to malfunctioning or old electrical equipment.   Harvest season is the best time to inspect all machinery and electrical equipment, including clearing outlets, lighting, electrical panels and equipment from obstructions or debris.  Check to make sure wires have not been affected by mice or other animals and carefully examine all connections.  Partially destructed wires can cause electrical shorts and potentially fatal electrical hazards.  Additionally, workers should be aware of the height of electrical lines and farm equipment, as many dump bed trucks, wagons, loaders and more can contact electrical lines, causing fatal accidents.  For more information about electrical safety on farms, please visit the University of Illinois Extension's farm electrical safety page at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/agsafety/factsheets/fes.cfm

Additional Resources

For more information about safety in the agricultural industry, please visit: 

ASSE Agricultural Branch of the Environmental Practice Specialty

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Agricultural Safety Page

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Agricultural Operations Page

The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety

The International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health