Farm Safety and Health Week
According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, farmland covers nearly 27 million acres or approximately 75% of the state’s total land area. While agriculture is one of the state’s key economic industries, farming remains one of the most dangerous occupations with the highest fatal injury rate of any industry. Farming accidents happen in a variety of ways, from workers being unaware of risks, equipment malfunctions, improper training, and more. Accidents can lead to loss of limbs, brain injuries, spine injuries, internal bleeding, suffocation, broken bones, and other injuries. Far too many of these accidents ultimately are fatal. Many of these accidents are completely preventable, making the statistics even more tragic.
For Farm Safety and Health Week, Spiros Law, P.C. wants to raise awareness of the common causes of farming accidents, as well as provide tips to help reduce these accidents in the future.
Common Sources of Farming Accidents
Farming accidents can occur in an almost infinite variety of ways, because farmers work with such massive and powerful equipment, buildings, and animals, often in remote locations and without oversight. Some of the most common causes of farming accidents include:
- Overturning equipment: Irregular terrain common on and around farms can destabilize machines such as tractors and combines, causing them to roll over, potentially crushing the driver. Tractor rollovers are the most common farming accident overall, with 100 people dying from such accidents every year. While modern models of farming equipment tend to feature improved safety features and rollover prevention, many farmers across the country are still using older models without these features.
- Falls: Farms feature many massive buildings, such as silos, grain bins, haylofts, and more. A fall from the top of these structures can be deadly. Similarly, farmers may be struck by falling objects, resulting in injury or death.
- Suffocation: These same massive buildings offer another risk: asphyxiation. Farmers who slip and fall into stored grain inside a silo or other building may start to sink and have no way out. Many effectively drown or are crushed in the grain before help arrives. Suffocation is also a risk for farmers who may become trapped in a manure pit, exposed to toxic gas.
- Animal Injuries: Animals can be unpredictable, and can cause major damage when spooked. Farmers can be injured or killed by being kicked, trampled, mauled, or gored.
- Entanglements: Farm equipment like augers and hay balers is extremely powerful. When farmers get their hair, hands, or clothing tangled in the equipment, they can lose body parts or even their life.
Many of these accidents could be prevented, particularly if they were caused by the negligence or recklessness of another person.
Farm Safety Tips
In order to try to minimize accidents on your farm, try to follow these safety tips:
- Educate yourself: Read the safety manuals for all your equipment. Learn first aid and CPR. Attend workshops, seminars, and training courses whenever possible. Education is a great way to prevent accidents from helping in the first place, and can also help you know what to do if one does occur.
- Inspect and maintain all equipment: Ornery farm equipment benefits from daily safety checks before each use, as well as regular maintenance and upkeep. If possible, you should replace outdated equipment if newer models are safer, or install safety features (such as Rollover Protection Structures for tractors) with your older models.
- Follow safety protocols: Every year, many farm accidents are caused because workers simply neglected to follow basic safety protocols. Many of these protocols are inconvenient or time-consuming – ROPS make tractors unwieldy to store, strapping into a harness before entering a grain silo is uncomfortable, and using seatbelts can just slip your mind. But ignoring safety protocols in favor of convenience or speed is dangerous and leads to many accidents every year.
- Dress appropriately: Loose clothing and hair can easily get tangled in farming equipment, leading to disaster. Similarly, certain tasks, such as using dangerous equipment or handling toxic chemicals, require specific protective gear. Always dress appropriately for the task at hand and the risks involved.
- Be aware: The single most important thing you can do to prevent accidents on a farm is to be aware of everything you are doing. Make sure that equipment is turned off before working on it. Always be aware of where your fellow farm workers are, particularly when operating equipment. Pay attention to your surroundings when driving on rural roads, including watching for oncoming traffic, potholes, or other obstructions in the road. Slowing down and taking the time to really ensure you know what you’re doing can help keep everyone safe on the farm.
Following these safety tips could significantly decrease the risk of accidents for workers across the state of Illinois.
Even if you take every necessary precaution, you may still find yourself injured in a farming accident. If this happens, don’t hesitate to contact the Illinois farming accident lawyers from Spiros Law, P.C.. If you were injured because of farming equipment malfunction, negligence on behalf of your employer, or any other accident caused by another party, we can help. Contact us today at (815) 929-9292 to discuss the details of your case.