Agriculture Safety: Tips & Statistics

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over some important agricultural safety statistics. Then you'll learn about a few important agricultural safety tips that should get you started on the right track to working safely in agriculture.

Agricultural Accidents

There's a story about a farmer that goes something like this. He was riding his tractor along his field when it suddenly stopped. He stepped off the tractor and started to tinker with the engine when it suddenly started again as he had his hand near some engine parts. One of those parts got hold of his ring on his ring finger and pulled the finger clean off.

This and all sorts of other accidents happen in agriculture. In this lesson, you'll learn some interesting stats about this topic and some safety tips as well.

Statistics

The U.S. employs over 2,000,000 full time workers in the agricultural field. In 2015, about 400 of these workers died as a result of some sort of work-related injury. This translates to roughly 19 deaths per 100,000 workers. Of those who die working in the agricultural sector, about one-third are less than 20 years of age! The leading cause of death for any age group? Overturned tractors. Tractor-related injuries, such as those due to rollovers, accounts for 15.5% of all injuries sustained in the agricultural field. Other important causes of death in the agricultural field include motor vehicle accidents and drowning.

There are numerous other sources and types of injuries in the agricultural field beyond tractors. For example, agricultural workers can be injured when using some sort of tools, instruments, or equipment. Such injuries account for about 27% of all injuries. Injuries sustained from walkways, like slips and falls, account for about 16% of injuries. The most common type of injury in the agricultural field is a sprain or strain which accounts for roughly 41% of all injury types.

Safety

So how do we prevent some of these injuries and deaths? One of the most effective ways is to use a roll-over protective structure to protect the driver from serious injury or death should the tractor begin to tip. Shockingly, a large amount of farms in the U.S. continue to use old tractors without such protection, contributing to a large percentage of deaths every year. But installing a roll-over protective structure is not enough. As with any car, a seatbelt must be installed and worn. Otherwise, the driver might be thrown off the tractor during an accident.

A tractor with a rollover protection system.
A tractor with a rollover protection system

As the last section mentioned, motor vehicle accidents contribute to numerous death every year. One important source of this in the agricultural field is an accident involving an ATV. Children under 16 years of age shouldn't be allowed to operate one and you should never have a passenger on your ATV. This is because a passenger makes it more difficult to control the ATV. Of course, everyone should follow standard safety protocols such as wearing a helmet and never driving under the influence.

A pretty common source of injury, including bruises and fractures, has nothing to do with machinery. Livestock pose an injury risk to every agricultural worker that is around them. Remember, these animals, like cattle, are huge! They don't need to swing at you with a body part with much force to injure you. Thus, it's important everyone who works with livestock knows how to do so. For example, you should always be aware of an escape route if working with an animal. You should be aware of sensitive points, like standing directly behind an animal, which might startle it if they're not aware you're there to begin with.

Agricultural workers also use a lot of different chemicals. These can and do easily injure people who mishandle them. It's important everyone who works with agricultural chemicals wears the right kind of safety equipment. This might include goggles, respirators, gloves, and even protective clothing and boots. What must be worn depends on the chemical in question. However, wearing this protective gear can help minimize or prevent injuries such as chemical burns, vision loss, and respiratory issues. Everyone handling such chemicals should read the chemical's material safety data sheet, which outlines important safety precautions specific to that chemical.

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