How are you prioritizing safety this harvest season? Experts weigh in at Farm Safety & Health Week
It is National Farm Safety and Health Week—a time dedicated to recognizing the critical importance of safety on the farm. The National Education Center for Ag Safety (NECAS) usually hosts this week-long event during mid-September so farmers are reminded to prioritize their safety during the harvest season.
The farmer is the most valuable resource on any operation. That is why the National Education Center for Ag Safety (NECAS) is putting the focus on farmer safety this week during their annual event, Farm Safety and Health Week.
The agriculture industry faces a sobering reality: it consistently leads many of the nation’s largest industries in injuries and fatalities.
“For years and years, unfortunately, agriculture has led the nation in injuries and fatalities,” said NECAS Director Dan Neenan. “That is, in part, due to the family farm being exempt from any and all OSHA rules that are out there, so that all takes its toll. We’re happy to see that the number of injuries and fatalities are falling.”
The nature of farm work, often performed in isolated and rugged settings, poses unique challenges that demand heightened attention to safety. While Neenan is happy to see these numbers shrink throughout his tenure as an ag safety advocate, he says—until that number reaches zero, there is still work to be done.
“I first started doing ag safety back in the year 2000 and we were averaging about 730 fatalities,” he explained. “Then, the last year we have data for is 2021—and there were 453 fatalities—so we’re going in the right direction. Unfortunately, we’re never going to reach zero during my working lifetime to be able to do that. So, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”
The NECAS plans to spend the week covering a wide range or rural health topics, including:
- Monday, September 18, 2023 - Equipment and Rural Roadway Safety
- Tuesday, September 19, 2023 - Health and Wellness
- Wednesday, September 20, 2023 - Priority Populations
- Thursday, September 21, 2023 - Confined Spaces
- Friday, September 22, 2023 - Brain Health
Not only is the week-long education event a vital resource to farmers across the nation, National Farm Safety and Health Week is also one of the longest-running national initiatives started via Presidential Proclamation. The first one was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 and it has continued ever since.
During this special week, the nation recognizes the dedication and resilience of farmers and agricultural workers while emphasizing the importance of prioritizing their safety and well-being. It serves as a reminder to all that farming is more than an occupation, for many it is a way of life.