Take extra care to make farming a safe occupation

Monday, March 3, 2008

Farming is among America's most dangerous occupations, with 28 deaths per 100,000 farm workers, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are others more dangerous; nearly 118 timber cutters are killed per 100,000 workers, followed by fishermen, pilots and navigators, structural metal workers, drivers-sales workers, roofers and electrical power installers.

But farming is different in that few other occupations involve the family as much as agriculture. As a result, children are at risk -- many of them toddlers who are run over by farm equipment, or kids 5-12 who fall off equipment while riding along.

About 20 Nebraskans die each year in farm accidents, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln research, and none of them had to die.

"The tragic thing about these accidents is that all of them are preventable," said Sharry Nielsen, UNL Extension Educator for Kearney and Franklin Counties.

That's why U.S. Ag Secretary Ed Schafer proclaimed this week as Agricultural Safety Awareness Week.

The theme, "Growing the Most Important Crop," is especially appropriate in light of the need for a special emphasis on children, as well as other family members and employees.

For many years, overturning tractors -- especially older, less safe models driven by older, semi-retired farmers -- have been linked to accidental deaths, but that is changing.

For the last three or four years, all-terrain vehicles have been involved in more fatal accidents.

Twenty people killed on the farm is tragic -- even one unnecessary death is too many.

During this Agricultural Safety Awareness Week, we urge everyone working on the farm, especially those with children, to remind themselves of the rules to keep themselves, their families and employees from becoming a statistic.

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