Farm Bureau warns to prioritize safety

Published 10:00 am Sunday, October 8, 2023

Some of the nation’s most vital workers face life-threatening situations every day.

“Agriculture, fishing and forestry workers encounter hazards daily that put their health and well-being at risk,” said Laura Siegel, health communications officer for the AgriSafe Network.

AgriSafe is a nonprofit organization representing health professionals and educators who are striving to reduce health disparities in agricultural communities.

Recent data indicates that the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 573 fatalities in 2019 — equal to 23.1 deaths per 100,000 workers. In 2021, 4.6 workers per every 100 were ill or injured on the job, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To remind agriculturalists to prioritize safety in the workplace, the U.S. has observed National Farm Safety and Health Week since 1944. It’s held during the third week of September, during harvest season — one of the busiest and most dangerous times of the year for farmers.

The annual observance returns Sept. 17-23 with the theme “No One Can Take Your Place.” This reminds farmers of their immeasurable value — providing food, fuel, fiber and a future for agriculture.

Daily themes include equipment and rural roadway safety, health and wellness, priority populations, confined spaces and brain health.

Becky Broaddus, a member of the Virginia Farm Bureau Farm Safety Advisory Committee, said it’s important to help spread awareness of stress’ impact on mental health. Broaddus has led a series of mental health trainings for individuals who work with farmers.

Also slated for the week is a series of free webinars on relevant health and safety topics hosted by AgriSafe.

AgriSafe will provide 10 free educational webinars Sept. 18-22 via Zoom with Spanish interpretation. Topics include ATV and chainsaw safety; infectious disease prevention on farms; cardiovascular health; mental health access for farmworkers; confined spaces on dairy farms; grain entrapment prevention and response; and managing stress and mental health.

For more information or to register, visit agrisafe.org/nfshw/.