Farming and agriculture have deep roots in the nation’s history and economy. However, beneath the idyllic imagery of fields and barns lies a stark reality – farming is the most dangerous industry in the United States.
The inherent risks associated with agricultural work contribute to a higher rate of injuries and fatalities compared to other sectors. Understanding these risks is necessary for promoting safety in the farming community.
Farm injury risks
Farming involves the use of heavy machinery, such as tractors, combines and plows. Accidents involving these machines can result in severe injuries, including amputations, fractures and crush injuries. Lack of proper training, maintenance or safety precautions often contributes to these incidents.
Farmworkers also often work in uneven and challenging terrains. Falls from heights, slips on wet surfaces or trips over equipment are common. These accidents can lead to fractures, sprains or even more severe injuries. Chemical exposure risks are also considerable. Pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals are integral to modern agriculture. Improper handling or exposure without adequate protective gear can result in skin irritation, respiratory problems and long-term health issues.
For those involved in animal husbandry, working with livestock poses its own set of risks. Cattle, horses and other animals can be unpredictable. Working with them can cause injuries such as kicks, bites or trampling incidents. Farm work also involves long hours outdoors. This exposes workers to extreme weather conditions. Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke, are significant concerns, particularly during the summer.
Farm safety tips
To mitigate the risks associated with farming, implementing comprehensive safety measures is key. This includes providing proper training for machinery operation and ensuring the use of personal protective equipment. It also includes maintaining equipment and promoting awareness of potential hazards. Additionally, encouraging breaks and hydration during strenuous work in adverse weather can help prevent heat-related illnesses.
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture reports that there were 23,1 deaths for every 100,000 agricultural workers in 2019. There were also 573 farm worker fatalities that year. Addressing common farm worker injuries and promoting a culture of safety helps improve working conditions and safety for farm workers across the nation.