Ag safety week encourages farmers to prepare, prevent and protect

RICHMOND, VA—Farmers are reminded to keep safety top of mind during this year’s Agricultural Safety Awareness Program Week, March 7-11.

Farming and agriculture jobs remain among the most hazardous, and that’s why the American Farm Bureau Federation organizes a week-long commemoration each year to promote safety and health in agricultural and rural communities.

This year’s theme is “Prepare. Prevent. Protect.” and throughout the week farming organizations will highlight safety related to livestock, finances, disaster preparedness, youth and equipment.

“As farmers, we get used to the dangers as part of everyday life,” said Amy Byington, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Lee County and member of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s Farm Safety Advisory Committee. “People are often hurt or killed doing things that they have done hundreds of times without injury.”

She noted that serious injury can happen when working around livestock, especially cattle that weigh over 1,000 pounds and are unpredictable.

“Never take working with livestock for granted, as they can hurt people even without meaning to,” she advised. “Always let others know when you’ll be working with livestock, and invest in good working facilities—good working facilities are the key to safety with livestock.”

In addition to causing injuries and deaths, farm accidents also can rack up a significant financial burden.

“It pays to be safe,” said Dana Fisher, chairman of the VFBF Farm Safety Advisory Committee. “Taking the extra time, being careful with what you’re doing and investing in safety equipment and training can really benefit everyone in the long run.”

Youth all-terrain and utility task vehicle safety also will be addressed during the week. According to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, there are more than 100,000 emergency room visits annually due to ATV- and UTV-related injuries, and about 650 people die in ATV and UTV incidents each year. Between 25% and 50% of the injuries and fatalities involve children.

“ATVs and UTVs are tremendously useful around the farm,” Fisher noted. “But the risks are high. They’re heavy vehicles that can go fast, making it easy for children to lose control. Adults should make sure their kids only operate appropriately sized equipment, wear proper-fitting safety gear, like helmets, and that they follow ATV safety procedures."

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