National Farm Safety & Health Week is September 20-26. This annual promotion of farm safety was initiated by the National Safety Council has been proclaimed by each sitting U.S. President since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944. National Farm Safety and Health Week is led by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS), the agricultural partner of the National Safety Council. Vermilion County Farm Bureau is joining NECAS to ensure that we have a safe harvest season.
The theme for National Farm Safety and Health Week 2020 is “Every Farmer Counts”. This theme is one that reminds us that it is in everyone’s best interest to prioritize the health and safety of those who work so hard to provide our abundant supply of food, fiber and fuel.
The 2018 data for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 574 fatalities, or an equivalent of 23.4 deaths per 100,000 workers. Fall harvest time can be one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons of the year for the agriculture industry.
One of the leading cause of death for farmers and farm workers is transportation incidents, which include tractor overturns. To ensure you and your local famers have a safe harvest season, here’s some simple safety steps to follow.
Simple safety steps for farmers:
- Keep SMV signs, lights, and the body of farm vehicles clean. Dirt or debris can cover these safety features which lowers equipment visibility. Also, depositing anything on the road that obstructs traffic is illegal and dangerous.
- Travel in farm vehicles at low traffic times when possible. Roads are typically busiest on weekdays when people are traveling to and from work.
- Continue to be observant. As always, be aware and attentive when driving. Distracted driving is just as dangerous in farm vehicles as it is in regular vehicles.
Simple safety steps for drivers:
- Find the lights on farm vehicles. Farm vehicles are required to have amber and red rear lights. The amber lights should be visible to the front and rear. They should flash as a warning to other motorists.
- Slow down as soon as you see a farm vehicle and the orange SMV emblem. Most farm equipment only travels 15 to 20 miles per hour, so it is crucial to slow down before it is too late.
- Be cognizant of the time of year. Harvest season typically runs from September through November. Drivers should expect to see farm vehicles on the road during this time.
It is important for all farm operators to develop a routine to make sure these features always remain visible for other drivers and that safety precautions are always top of mind. And rural motorists should consider giving themselves a few extra minutes for travel during the harvest season so they can slow down to keep our farmers and families safe.
As we recognize National Farm Safety and Health Week this September, please join us in spreading awareness of the risks associated with working in agriculture and promoting safe and healthy practices through the harvest season and beyond.