North Carolina Cooperative Extension and the NC Agromedicine Institute are among the organizations that will observe National Farm Safety and Health Week from Sept. 20 to 26. The theme for 2015 is “Ag Safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle.”
The theme reminds local and rural communities that agriculture is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States, and farm injuries and fatalities are preventable, according to Julia Storm, an agromedicine specialist with Cooperative Extension at NC State University. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor indicate that in 2013 farming accounted for 500 fatalities, or 23.2 deaths per 100,000 workers.
“In North Carolina alone in 2014, we are aware of 11 farming deaths, with families mourning the loss of those aged 5 to 86 years old,” Storm said. “Already in 2015, we’ve lost seven more. Countless disabling injuries were suffered as well. … The statistics are disheartening, but the tide can be turned.”
Storm encourages North Carolina farmers to take advantage of programs offered by Extension and Agromedicine Institute, a partnership of East Carolina, NC State and North Carolina A&T State universities. Certified Safe Farm, for example, offers a non-regulatory on-farm safety review provided by Extension and a comprehensive agricultural health screening offered by specially trained AgriSafe nurses. Farmers, family members and employees benefit. The program assesses problems—but, more important, offers solutions, Storm said.
“Certified Safe Farm and AgriSafe provide guidance for setting safety and health goals that meet your priorities,” Storm said. “Benefits to farms include a cost-share program to assist with safety and health improvements and a farm entrance recognition sign, as well as the potential for insurance safety discounts.”
Best of all, the program provides peace of mind. As one grower put it: “I never want to have to call the loved one of someone who died on my farm to share the sad news. Certified Safe Farm is just the right thing to do.”
More than 130 North Carolina farmers have already participated in Certified Safe Farm, which, along with AgriSafe, is made possible in part through a grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.
For information about Certified Safe Farm, contact your local Cooperative Extension County Center, or: Julia Storm, NC State University, 919-515-7961, firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about AgriSafe, contact the NC Agromedicine Institute, 252-744-1023 or 855-247-4723, email@example.com.
Other Farm Safety and Health Week activities are happening all across the country. The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety is sponsoring a webinar for each day of the week at noon Central Time (1 pm Eastern Time) at www.necasag.org. Each day a new theme is explored:
- Monday, September 21 – Rural Roadway
- Tuesday, September 22 – Confined Spaces in Agriculture
- Wednesday, September 23- Children’s Topics
- Thursday, September 24 – Health
- Friday, September 25 – Tractor Safety
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