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Farming is more dangerous than it seems

Covington County Extension Office director Chuck Simon said farming is a very dangerous profession.

The theme for this year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week is “Shift Farm Safety into High Gear” as a reminder that it is everyone’s responsibility to prioritize safety on the farm and the rural roadways of America.

“There are lots of things that farmers do daily that are dangerous,” Simon said. “They cut, sling and dig and you’ve got to stay on your toes while you are out there.”

Simon said he has met several farmers who were caught off guard and lost appendages for it.

“You have got to watch what you’re doing out there,” Simon said. “I remember when I came here years ago, I met several of the older farmers that were missing digits, arms, hands and things like that because of the old machinery. The machinery has become a lot safer over the years, but farmers still need to be precautious.”

One thing that Simon said people don’t think about when it comes to safety is the farmer that deals with livestock.

“There are several farmers out there that deal with livestock and end up injured,” Simon said. “Nationwide, a lot of people get killed by raising livestock.”

Another thing farmers have to look out for is dust.

“When a farmer is out there, and they are inhaling all of that dust, it gets pretty unhealthy,” Simon said. “You also have snakes coming out of peanut pickers. It is just a dangerous profession.”

Simon said there are only so many things that farmers can do, but being aware of their surroundings is a good start.

“It all comes down to experience,” Simon said. “You have to watch what you are doing out there. Leaving the guards on the machinery is another good thing to do. A good thing about the newer equipment is the air-conditioned cabins. Farmers are not as fatigued as before. They should always be aware of their surroundings and take breaks as often as they can.”

Last week was an opportunity to spread awareness of the inherent risks associated with work in the agriculture sector and commit to improved practices that advance the health and safety of farm and ranch operators, their family members, and their hired workers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 581 workers in agriculture and related industries died from a work-related injury in 2017, making agriculture one of the most dangerous professions in the United States.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue applauded President Trump’s proclamation making Sept. 15-21, 2019 National Farm Safety and Health Week.

“America’s farmers, ranchers and producers work hard to feed our nation and the world,” Secretary Perdue said. “Farming is not always the safest profession and it is our responsibility to continue to improve workplace safety and pursue initiatives that create healthier work environments. They must also have access to innovative technologies and production practices to protect themselves and their employees. President Trump has our farmers’ backs and this proclamation further demonstrates this issue as one of great importance. Promoting farm safety will help our American agriculture workforce to continue producing the healthiest, safest, most affordable, and most abundant food supply on earth.”