Corn and soybean farmers across the United States are gearing up for another harvest season, and most small grains have already been brought to the bin, and most cuttings of hay have been stored away.
Harvest season, regardless what time of year it occurs, is one of the most stressful times for a farming operation. Working long hours, getting the grains to safe storage in bins or silos before Mother Nature rears her ugly head can put a lot of stress and strain on agrarians. The stress of the long hours can tire producers, and we all know that we may not think as clearly when we are exhausted. When you get stressed for time or at least think that you’re stressed for time, it is common to cut corners.
Please do not cut corners when it comes to your safety and the safety of those around you.
Since 1944, the third week of September has been designated as National Farm Safety & Health Week, which means this year’s version falls Sept. 17-23. Though it’s good to have reminders to be safe, producers need to practice safety around farm equipment and livestock 52 weeks of the year.
The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety has set the theme for this year’s farm safety week as “Putting Farm Safety into Practice.” According to the NECAS, new data from the Department of Labor shows the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 570 fatalities, which equals 22.8 deaths per 100,000 workers. When combining all labor sectors, the death rate was 3.4%.
The NECAS farm safety week website has lots of good resources and stories to help you map out your road to a safe farming operation. Most of these resources are geared toward the crop farmer, which is where most of the accidents occur. But as we all know, working with hogs, hogs that often outweigh us can also be dangerous, not to mention the barn environment that can present hazards in their own right — hydrogen sulfide, dust, carbon monoxide, methane.
Do you think that your hog operation is pretty safe? Well, the Pork Checkoff also provides an online Benchmarking Workplace Safety tool to see how your operation stands against your peers.
In reality, though, it doesn’t matter how you stack up against other hog farms. It matters how safe your hog farm and its employees are on a day-in, day-out basis. Think safety first, and put farm safety into practice. Not just one week, but 365 days a year.