Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Matt ReeseThere is no doubt: it is not always convenient, or easy, or enjoyable to focus on farm safety issues. But the time and effort involved with a focus on farm safety is always worth the investment compared to the heartbreak resulting from tragedies that take place on farms every year. National Farm Safety Week is Sept. 16 to 22 this year and it is an important opportunity for farmers to re-focus on farm safety heading into the busy harvest months, not only for themselves and their families, but also their farm employees.“Agriculture is still one of the most hazardous industries not only in Ohio but in the U.S. Safety in agriculture is a key component to preventing severe injuries and fatalities,” said Kent McGuire, Ohio State University’s Health and Safety Coordinator in the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. “As an agricultural employer it is important to make safety a priority and take the time to train your employees on safe work practices and recognizing hazards. When we look at agricultural hazards, we can break those down into physical injuries and potential health issues. It is very important to consider the overall health and well being of not only farmers, but also agricultural workers. This includes stresses and mental aspects associated with agricultural production as well as some of the current issues we are trying to address like the opioid crisis. We have to look at getting those resources and that help out to the rural farm communities.”A focus on farm safety starts from the top management on down, and it needs to be embraced by everyone.“Safety needs to be a priority and one of the biggest things you can do for family members and employees is to build a culture of safety to create moments where people can recognize a hazard and address the situation. There are such a variety of hazards in agriculture from equipment, to livestock handling, to slips trips and falls and even confined spaces. The emphasis on taking the time to provide safety training and creating an awareness for your employees is vital to preventing health issues or injuries,” McGuire said. “We have put together a safety program for CFAES that can provide resources for the agricultural industry out in the state.”National Farm Safety and Health Week is coordinated by the U.S. Agricultural Centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to highlight agricultural health and safety and create opportunities to start or continue to build safety programs for farm workers, farm families, and everyone involved in agriculture. Following are the daily themes through the week highlighting different safety focus areas for farms, and McGuire offers more specific items to consider for each topic. Monday: Rural roadway safety Throughout the year it is necessary for farm equipment and regular motorist to share the road. It is important that the equipment operator and the general motorist use the proper precautions on roadways.As an equipment operator:Make sure that all warning flashers and lights are in proper operating condition, and ensure the Slow Moving Vehicle emblems, are clean, and easily visible.Use turn signals or proper hand signals to give plenty of warning to other motorist of your intentions to turn.Plan ahead and watch for roadside obstacles.If possible, move equipment at off peak hours and use an escort vehicle if needed.Always have your brakes pedals locked together, Rollover Protective Structure in place and seat belt fastened.As a motorist sharing the road with agricultural equipment:Understand that most ag equipment today will not fit in one lane of the road.Operators also have to navigate around roadside obstacles like steep ditches, mailboxes, road signs, and bridge railings.Consider that operators of farm equipment my have limited vision to what is behind them because of the size of equipment they are towing.Take into account, most farm equipment is traveling at 25 miles per hour or less, as a motorist traveling at 55 miles per hour, reaction time to closing distance is greatly reduced. Use caution in order to prevent a rear end collision.For more visit umash.umn.edu/farm-safety-check-roadway-safety/ Tuesday: Health/suicide/opioids It is very important to consider the overall health and well being of the farmer or farm worker. This also includes the stresses and mental aspects associated with ag production. Common health hazards in agriculture include respiratory hazards, hearing loss, exposure to chemicals, working in extreme temperatures and sun exposure.Another aspect of living healthy is minimizing stress, however farming can be a consistently stressful occupation. Farmers experience stresses associated with most occupations such as high demand, time pressures, and increased workload; however, farmers have added pressures associated with agriculture, such as uncontrollable weather, machinery breakdowns, variable crop prices, or even economic survival.Finally, the challenges of dealing with the impacts of opioid use and addiction in the agricultural workplace and rural communities are growing. Educate employees about the dangers of addiction and the harm of abusing illegal drugs and prescription medications. Watch for warning signs of addiction and be extra vigilant if employees work in safety-sensitive positions or with heavy machinery.For more visit www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/agricultural-worker-protection-standard-wpshttp://nasdonline.org/1246/d001050/health-hazards-in-agriculture-an-emerging-issue.htmlhttps://articles.extension.org/pages/70313/production-agriculture-and-stressand www.usda.gov/topics/opioids. Wednesday: Child/youth health and safety For generations, youth have had an active part in agriculture. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 2 million youth under the age of 20 are exposed to farm-related safety hazards each year. As a result, it is important to understand and comply with the federal and state agricultural youth employment rules, stress safety practices and make sure that they are doing age appropriate work tasks that they can handle physically and mentally. Training young workers to recognize hazards is essential to reduce the risk of physical injury or health related exposures.For more information visit: www.osha.gov/SLTC/youth/agriculture/workers.html and https://www.dol.gov/whd/AG/ag_pocket_guide.pdf Thursday: Confined spaces in agriculture There is such a variety of confined spaces in the agricultural industry from grain handling facilities to manure storage areas, to bulk processing storage. An agricultural confined space can be identified as any space found in an agricultural workplace that:Was not designated or intended as a regular workstationHas limited or restricted means of entry or exitAssociated with potential physical and/or toxic hazards to workers who intentionally or unintentionally enter the space.It is important that those areas are identified and procedures are followed when working around or entering those areas. Hazards associated with agricultural confined spaces include: toxic atmospheres, combustible atmospheres, engulfment, entrapment, and equipment hazards.For more information visit: www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3939.pdf Friday: Tractor safety Tractors are the most widely used piece of equipment in agriculture, and still cause the most agricultural related fatalities in Ohio and nationally. The three main causes for severe injury include: roll-over, run-over, and being caught in moving parts. It is important to understand how to safely operate tractors, understand their capabilities and limitations, and use the safety features such as Roll Over Protective Structures.For more information visit: extension.psu.edu/national-safe-tractor-and-machinery-operation-program.“There are benefits to better safety and health practices in agriculture. Obviously the primary benefit is the reduction of illnesses, injuries and agricultural related fatalities. Additionally, there are cost and productivity benefits such as reduced worker’s compensation and insurance premiums, minimal medical expenses, and increased productivity and morale with employees,” McGuire said.Additional information on managing safety and resources for employee safety training in the agricultural industry can be found at https://agsafety.osu.edu/programs/cfaes-osha or contact Kent McGuire, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-292-0588.