National Farm Safety and Health Week is Sept. 21-27

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By The Staff

Kentucky Farm Bureau and the National Safety Council are joining forces to recognize the importance of safe farming practices in conjunction with National Farm Safety and Health Week.

That observance, now in its 65th year, is set for September 21-27 nationwide, under the theme “Farm Safety---Protect YOUr Investment.”

The theme, according to Kentucky Farm Bureau President Marshall Coyle, underscores the value of safety and wellness of farmers and farming families.

In 2007, there were 715 deaths and 80,000 disabling injuries attributed to agricultural work. That’s actually a decline in deaths and injuries from previous years, but still enough to rank agriculture as the most dangerous occupation, ahead of both mining and construction in fatalities

The injury rate is also an alarming statistic, ranking second nationally behind the transportation and warehousing industry. Manufacturing is another sector of the economy with a high injury rate.

Elaborating on this year’s safety week theme, Coyle says that farmers and their families can ill afford the pain and inconvenience of workplace injuries or death.

“Farmers typically lose four days of work for every injury they suffer,” he explained. “Yet the daily duties of feeding and caring for livestock, and planting, tending and harvesting crops continue, usually resulting in additional costs that impact the operation’s bottom line.”

The National Institute for Farm Safety, a leader in agricultural injury and illness prevention, says the statistical record for farm accidents is a constant reminder of the impact that those mishaps have on crop production and food supplies.

NIFS President Glen Hetzel says his organization is committed to spread the ag safety education and awareness message, and the Farm Safety Week observance is a good vehicle for those efforts.

Hetzel noted that 60 per cent of farm injuries occur during work with large, unpredictable livestock. Most other accidents involve machinery during crop production activities.

Noting that agricultural injuries and deaths have fallen gradually over the past four years, he said: “Safer equipment and increased safety awareness make a difference.”