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) urges all agricultural workers to be safe at work. In a press release, the organization provides the following safety and health tips to help prevent tragic injuries and illnesses that occur every year on farms:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Conduct meetings with employees and family members to assess safety hazards, discuss potential accident situations, and outline emergency procedures.
  • 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 seatbelts while the tractor is in operation on tractors equipped with a ROPS.
  • 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.
  • Review material safety data sheets and labels that come with all chemical products.
  • Communicate information concerning hazards to all workers. Prevent pesticide poisonings and dermatitis caused by chemicals taking protective measures recommended on the labels.
  • Take the necessary precautions to prevent entrapment and suffocation caused by unstable surfaces of grain storage bins, silos, wagons and other storage structures.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Since most farms don’t fall under the auspices of OSHA rules and regulations, ASSE also urges farmers to thoroughly train all workers, including young farmers, 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, the ASSE says. 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 visitwww.asse.org/newsroom.