Iowa Farm Safety and Health Week on Sept. 15-21 runs in conjunction with National Farm Safety and Health Week. This year’s national theme is “Shift Farm Safety Into High Gear.”
This is the 76th observance of the National Farm Safety and Health Week. “This special week of safety and health observance is still relevant today because agriculture ranks as the most dangerous industry in the United States,” says Chuck Schwab, Iowa State University Extension safety specialist.
Farm safety week is used by farm safety professionals and organizations to remind those working within agriculture to be cautious. The fall harvest time is typically the busiest season of the year and the time when agriculture reports the largest number of injuries. It is essential that Iowans use safe farming practices during harvest season.
Eliminate farm injury risks
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds recently signed a proclamation to commemorate the week, calling for all Iowans to “work together to eliminate or mitigate these farm injury risks.”
The governor’s proclamation stresses that making farms safer is crucial to Iowa, which has over 85% of its land used in agriculture. Iowa last year harvested more than $13 billion worth of corn and soybeans.
The Iowa Farm Safety Council and ISU encourage Iowans to put farm safety into practice by:
- using only tractors that have rollover protective structures (ROPS)
- saying no to extra riders on tractors
- retrofitting operating tractors with ROPS
- understanding that people near tractors may be obscured from the operator’s sight
“Anyone who works on farms or is involved in farming is invited to join the Iowa Farm Safety Council, ISU, the National Safety Council and the National Education Center for Ag Safety in promoting safety Sept. 15 to 21,” Schwab says. “During this time of harvest, remember to encourage others to put farm safety into high gear to prevent tragic injuries.”
Extra riders high risk
The National Children’s Center estimates one child dies about every three days in an ag-related incident. One common incident where children are harmed is when they are an extra rider on a farm or lawn care tractor.
“Tractor rides have an intrinsic appeal for kids and a willingness for adults to allow them,” Schwab, says. “The well-intended activity of a child riding on the tractor with a parent or grandparent is an extremely dangerous situation that too often ends in death.”
Around one-fourth of tractor deaths each year are from runovers. These usually happen when an extra rider falls under the back wheel and is crushed. An easy saying to remember is: “One seat, one rider,” and as adults, it is our responsibility to keep youth safe by not allowing them to be the extra rider on tractors. Be firm and say no,” he says.
Marilyn Adams, president and founder of Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, wrote a poem about youth safety and several lines of that poem are directly related to extra-riders. She penned:
“I am the kid who did not beg for a ride on the tractor.
Not being an extra rider kept me safe, I know that was a factor.
I am the kid you told to stick to my beliefs and be brave.
Yes, I am the kid whose life you did save.”