National observance places focus on farmer safety
To produce enough food and fiber to supply worldwide consumer markets, farmers often work through adverse and hazardous conditions.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, agricultural occupations are the most dangerous in America, with 573 fatalities registered in 2019, or 23.1 deaths per 100,000 workers.
To raise awareness of farming’s occupational hazards, the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety has designated Sept. 19-25 as National Farm Safety and Health Week. The annual safety promotion has been observed during the third week of September since 1944.
The theme for 2021 is “Farm Safety Yields Real Results”—a reminder that it’s in everyone’s interest to prioritize the health and safety of those who provide the nation’s food, fiber and fuel.
Each day during National Farm Safety and Health Week, the AgriSafe Network will host two free webinars. AgriSafe is a nonprofit organization representing health professionals and educators who strive to reduce health disparities in agricultural communities. Daily webinar topics include tractor safety and rural roadway safety; overall farmer health; safety and health of youth in agriculture; agricultural fertilizer and chemical safety; and safety and health for women in agriculture.
Farm State of Mind—an American Farm Bureau Federation campaign—is among the programs also being promoted during the safety week. The goal of the campaign is to provide relevant information and critical mental health resources for farming families, as well as reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness in rural communities.
NECAS also will promote AFBF’s Think F.A.S.T. campaign, which focuses on addressing on-farm safety concerns pertaining to teens.
Farmers and other rural residents can access additional farm safety resources through the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation safety website.
Information on the site is compiled by the VFBF Farm Safety Advisory Committee, and addresses topics such as accident response, agricultural hazards, mental health and rural road safety. Site content also includes links to safety resources offered by other farming advocacy organizations.
“Safety is such an important aspect of farming, and we want to make sure folks have access to as many resources as they can to help make their jobs as safe as possible,” said Dana Fisher, chairman of the VFBF safety committee.
“As farmers begin the busy fall harvest season, National Farm Safety and Health Week is a great time to remind our farmers that their physical and mental health should always come first.”