Practicing farm safety protects No. 1 investment

The roar and hustle of fall harvest is just around the corner. Time is precious. Hours are long. Breaks often don?t happen.

Because of this busy period in farming, accidents are more likely to happen. Agriculture continues to rank as one of the most dangerous occupations in this country and across the globe.

To place the spotlight on farming, ranching and the related health and safety issues impacting this industry, the National Safety Council has designated Sept. 21-27 as National Farm Safety & Health Week.

This event is designed to commemorate the hard work, diligence and sacrifice of this nation?s farmers. This year?s event marks the 65th consecutive year, beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944.

This year?s theme is ?Farm Safety?Protect YOUr Invest?ment.? This theme emphasizes ?You,? including using personal protective equipment to prevent accidents.

?This theme highlights the value of safety and wellness of the agricultural producer and the importance of protecting hearing, lung function, vision, skin and the musculo-skeletal system,? says Holly Higgins, Kansas Farm Bureau safety director. ?Every year farmers and ranchers are injured and killed because of preventable accidents.?

Last year there were 715 deaths and 80,000 disabling injuries attributed to agriculture. Twelve of these deaths occurred in Kansas and the majority of them involved farmers above the age of 50.

Farmers and their families can ill afford the pain and inconvenience of workplace injuries and death.

Farmers typically lose four days for every injury they suffer, Higgins says. Still, the daily duties of feeding and caring for livestock and planting, tending and harvesting crops continue.

?We like to label injuries and death in our industry as accidents,? Higgins says. ?The truth is these accidents generally happen for a reason.?

An accident occurs when a person walks out of the house while a plane is flying over and a piece of the plane falls off and hits them on the head, Higgins says. That?s an accident because there is absolutely nothing the person could have done to prevent this from happening.

On the other hand, if a person has the opportunity to prevent something from happening and you don?t take the time to do it or think the task through, then such an accident could have been prevented, Higgins says.

?Our farmers and ranchers should think about how much time their lives are worth,? the KFB safety director says. ?During harvest there is always a tremendous amount of work to be done in a short time. But it?s always smart to take a moment to rest and relax, eat, drink water and keep a clear head.?

The Farm Bureau safety director encourages farmers and ranchers to, ?do for yourself what you?d do for others.?

?You only have one life,? Higgins says. ?Cherish this.?

And if a farmer or rancher takes care of himself or herself during this busy harvest season, they?ll be ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christ?mas and the holidays after harvest.

Higgins has this suggestion for the upcoming holidays.

?Why not have a great big bag sitting by the tree with all the items a producer needs to keep him/herself healthy and safe,? she says. ?Pack this bag with steel-toed safety boots, gloves impervious to chemicals, hearing protection, eye goggles and sunscreen. That would send the appropriate message to the farmer or rancher from their family to take care of yourself because we love you.?

Make it a safe harvest.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.

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