By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation
A safe and healthy harvest is a happy harvest! Each September, as week kick off harvest season, we are reminded of the importance of keeping safety in mind all the time to maintain productivity and avoid injuries and illness. During National Farm Safety and Health Week, taking place September 17– 23, 2017, we focus on “Putting Farm Safety into Practice.”
According to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety (NCCRAHS), every three days a child dies and every day 33 children are injured due to agricultural-related incidents in the United States. Therefore, Wednesday, September 20th has been devoted to protecting our youth and keeping children on farms, ranches and in rural areas safe and healthy.
Growing up on a farm can be a wonderful experience. From a young age, children gain a strong appreciation for agriculture, learn the value of hard work and develop into the next generations of farmers. However, in order to ensure our children are around to be our future agriculture leaders, we need to keep them safe and healthy. Here are a few ways to help make this happen:
- Always make the play area more fun than the farmstead. Sadly, what seems like an innocent game of hide and seek in the tall corn or other crops can turn deadly if a child is hidden from sight and invisible to the operator of large farm equipment. Another important issue when it comes to grain safety is to avoid confusing children by sending mixed messages. At places like pumpkin patches and local parks, sand boxes have been replaced by corn, soybeans and other local grains. A young child will have trouble identifying the difference between grain in the box and grain in a gravity flow wagon that could engulf them in seconds.
- Ensure that tasks given to youth align with their development skill level. Recently, Agricultural Youth Work Guidelines were updated and released by NCCRAHS. These guidelines are designed to assist parents and supervisors in assigning appropriate tasks for youth who live or work on farms and ranches. The Progressive Agriculture Foundation was one of many organizations that helped with this project. More can be found at cultivatesafety.org/work
- Attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®. Safety Days are designed to be one-day, age-appropriate, hands-on, fun and safe events for children in rural communities. Since the program’s inception in 1995, more than 1.5 million children and adults have learned life-saving safety lessons helping us become recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America. For more information or to locate a Safety Day near you, visit progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529.
Farm Safety and Health Week is a great opportunity to reflect, revisit and rethink the importance of keeping our loved ones safe, as well as a time to adopt new safety practices for use on the farm, ranch or at home.
Photo: With 28 topic areas from ATV, fire and electricity safety to animal, chemical and grain safety, as depicted here by one of our participants in Illinois, Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® can customize their focus based on the needs of their local community. Photo republished by permission of The News-Gazette, Inc. (2016). Permission does not imply endorsement.]