Each year, Nebraska sees too many workplace deaths, ranging from just over 30 in a year all the way to 70. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has yet to release 2015 figures, but there were 54 such deaths in the state in 2014. The agricultural industry is among the annual leaders, and transportation is the most common cause across all industries – something directly related to this time of year as slow moving combines, tractors and ploughs plod along our highways, sharing the road with vehicles moving 50 mph and beyond.
Nationwide, farming continues to be one of the more dangerous jobs. On average, OSHA says 240 agriculture workers suffer a “serious lost-work-time injury” each day and the statistics, while reputable, likely err on the conservative side because each state has different tracking methods of farm-related injuries.
The fact is that farming is a multi-faceted job and all manner of accidents happen. Within the 2014 BLS statistics, the four leading causes of workplace injuries are transportation related, contact with objects and equipment, slips and falls, and injuries from animals or other violence. Farmers face all of these threats and more on a daily basis, not to mention the only remaining category on the BLS list: “all other.”
Common farm injuries include animal bites and mauling, tractor rollovers, vehicle accidents, falls off ladders and equipment, and many dangers specific to grain storage and harvest.
As the final crops are being combined now, it’s important to remember safety first and to focus on keeping equipment in good condition while following safety procedures to keep an accident-free harvest. Make certain you’re alert and fully aware during long days and be careful whenever moving equipment and grains.
While farming has a long tradition of independence, it’s important to get treatment for injuries and to follow the right procedures if a mishap does occur. Getting the harvest in on time is essential, but so is long-term health. Depending on the farm and your insurance coverage, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to help heal after a farm related injury. As you look toward the calmer winter months, it’s important to finish up this year’s harvest safely and, if an accident does happen, that you take the right steps to protect yourself for future harvests to come.