It’s the time of year when harvesting equipment is running all day and long into the night. Crops are coming off the fields, manure is moving to the fields, and on a dairy farm, the normal daily tasks must still take place.
All this activity also makes fall one of the most dangerous times of the year for agriculture. That’s the reason why this third week of September has been proclaimed National Farm Safety and Health Week by every 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, the agricultural partner of the National Safety Council.
“No one can take your place” is the theme of this year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week, taking place September 17 to 23, 2023. It serves as a reminder to all of us how quickly life can change in the face of an incident.
Unfortunately, agriculture remains one of the most dangerous occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 453 deaths of workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting category in 2021. Only the construction and transportation/warehousing categories had more fatalities.
The agriculture category claimed the unwanted spot of more fatalities per 100,000 full time equivalent workers than any other occupation. In 2021, there were 19.5 deaths for every 100,000 full-time workers. The most common causes of death were related to transportation incidents, which include tractor overturns and roadway crashes, and contact with objects or equipment.
These numbers were down from 2020, but the risks are still real, and one lost member of our agriculture community is one death too many.
We urge you to keep safety in your mind as you work long hours to accomplish all the tasks on your plate. It is so easy to skip steps or make mistakes when working against the clock, but as the theme of this week suggests, you and the members of your team cannot be replaced if something goes tragically wrong. For more information about National Farm Safety and Health Week and resources for safety training, visit the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety website.