National Farm Safety Week lasts 7 days, but farmers encouraged to practice safety 365 days a year

An overturned tractor is part of the farm safety display at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.

Contact: Cheryl Skjolaas, 608-265-0568, cheryl.skjolaas@ces.uwex.edu

National Farm Safety Week, September 18-24, is a time when farmers are reminded to take precautions to prevent farm related injuries and fatalities said Cheryl Skjolaas, University of Wisconsin-Extension agricultural safety specialist.

Agriculture ranks as one of the most dangerous industries nationally, she noted.

This year’s theme “Safety Counts-Your Community Depends on It” emphasizes that farm safety has an impact throughout a farming community. Whether you’re a farmer, member of a farm family, neighbor, safety trainer or emergency responder, if someone is injured or killed on a farm, there are ripples throughout the community.

“We’re fortunate here in Wisconsin to have many individuals involved in a variety of safety and health programs,” Skjolaas said.  “For example the Wisconsin Safe Operation of Tractor and Machinery Certification program involves many dedicated volunteers, high school agricultural instructors, technical college agricultural instructors and University of Wisconsin-Extension staff to provide the 24 hour training program to these young workers. I have also taught at several farm rescue trainings and know the involvement of medical and emergency personnel and their interest in being prepared to best respond to agricultural emergencies.”

This past year has brought changes to programming efforts as the US Department of Labor (DOL) through its Wage and Hour and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) increased their regulatory efforts related to agriculture.

“Many agricultural operations have expanded in the past decade and expansion has required more hired labor,” explains Skjolaas.  “Currently, OSHA has an emphasis program for grain facilities in Region 5 including Wisconsin and has proposed a dairy emphasis program for the state.  The Department of Labor has proposed changes to Fair Labor Standards Act and the Hazardous Occupation Order. Right now there’s increased interest in understanding regulatory requirements and how to address worker safety by agricultural producers.  Safety programs need to change with the industry too.”

Skjolaas said the Agricultural Safety and Health website is a great resource to find information about farm safety. The website can be found at http://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/agsafety

To find out more about farm safety programs in your community contact your local UW-Extension agriculture agent.

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