Because agriculture is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, the National Safety Council celebrates National Farm Safety and Health Week each year. This year, September 21-27, 2008 marks the occasion. The theme is "Farm Safely - Protect YOUr Investment." Numbers always tell a story - sometimes with harsh reality:

  • In 2007, 715 deaths and 80,000 injuries occurred in agriculture.
  • The 2006 death rate for farmers and farm employees was 28 in 100,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • The 2006 injury rate for farmers and farm employees was 6 in 100.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the death rate in agriculture ranks first among all occupations. Mining and construction are second and third, respectively.    

"The Farm Safety Week theme emphasizes the value of safety and wellness to all agricultural producers," says John Slocombe, Extension farm safety specialist at Kansas State University. "We want to remind farmers of the need to be safe and stress the importance of protecting hearing, lung function, vision, skin, and the musculo-skeletal system." Slocombe noted that up to 60 percent of farm injuries occur when working with livestock. Most other injuries happen during crop production with machinery incidents accounting for most injuries.

Most farmer deaths involve tractors. The overwhelming majority of injuries occur among workers aged 45 and older. The average age of U.S. farmers is 56. According to the National Institute for Farm Safety, there is a bright spot - the number of agricultural deaths and injuries has fallen gradually over the last four years. The decline is attributed to safer equipment and increased safety awareness.

For more information on safety in agriculture and extensive resources to improve your safety and the safety of workers, click here.

Source:  Kansas State University