Last week, the third week of September, is observed as National Farm Safety and Health Week. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first sitting U.S. President to proclaim the annual promotion of safety on the farm. That was in 1944.
This week, Palo Alto County elementary school students would have attended Farm Safety Day events. Living in a predominantly ag community, it is appropriate for students to learn, and annually review, safety on the farm.
The late Monte Thompson hosted Ag Safety Day at his farm for many years. Students from each school in Palo Alto County hopped on the school bus and went out to the Thompson farm. There they attended mini sessions on topics like lawn tractor safety, PTO (power take off) safety, flowing grain safety, lawn mower safety, ATV safety, fire safety, and basic first aid. Safety sessions were held at different areas of the farm before and after enjoying a picnic lunch on the lawn. Before they went home, each student selected a mini pumpkin to take home.
The day was coordinated by Palo Alto County Extension, with the assistance of many partners.
After Monte passed away, the event was moved to the Palo Alto County Fairgrounds and was named “Monte Thompson Progressive Ag Safety Day.”
This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ag Safety Day will not be held in Palo Alto County. Totally understandable.
The need to review farm safety is paramount as farmers begin the harvest season.
In 2018, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicated that America’s agricultural sector is still the most dangerous industry in the nation. That’s according to a news release from University of Nebraska Medical Center, Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, Omaha, NE. This is why it is so important to teach and refresh ag safety to students and adults. That year (2018) saw 574 fatalities in the agriculture industry. That’s equivalent to 23.4 deaths per 100,000 workers.
Since fall harvest time can be one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons on the farm, calling attention to farm safety during harvest is a valuable practice. National Farm Safety and Health Week is led by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS), the agricultural partner of the National Safety Council.
“Every Farmer Counts” is the theme for the 2020 event. The focus on each farmer is intended to remind us that it’s in everyone’s best interest to prioritize the health and safety of those who work so hard to provide our nation’s abundant supply of food, fiber and fuel.
Webinars (and not workshops) were held to draw attention to tractor safety and rural roadway safety, overall farmer health, safety and health for youth in agriculture, emergency preparedness in agriculture, and, safety and health for women in agriculture.
We count on our farmers – be safe out there!