John Shutske, Director, UW Center for Agricultural Safety and Health
Extension Safety Engineering & Agricultural Health Specialist
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
More information about National Farm Safety and Health week can be found in this news release
Total time 3:03
0:22: What is National Farm Safety and Health Week
0:54 Dangers of the industry
1:08 Education and modernization to increase safety
1:53 Increasing safety this fall
2:52 Lead out
Lorre Kolb: Putting farm safety into practice. We’re visiting today John Shutske, Director of the UW Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Lorre Kolb. So, John, National Farm Safety and Health Week is coming up. Can you give us a little bit of background on what this week is about?
John Shutske: Sure Lorre, this is the 74th annual celebration, or recognition, of National Farm Safety and Health Week. So, this middle part of September, 17th through the 23rd of September, is when we have traditionally recognized Farm Safety and Health Week and it’s really a time that we need to reflect. It’s a busy time. It’s the harvest season in many parts of the country and it’s a time to remind all of our farming community of the need to be safe and to recognize that agriculture is a potentially deadly industrial work place.
Lorre Kolb: So, how does it compare to other industries?
John Shutske: The death rate in agriculture is about 20 per 100,000 workers, and that rate is actually about 6 times higher than all of the other industries combined.
Lorre Kolb: So, what has been done over the past many years to make farming safer?
John Shutske: Education has been a priority of Cooperative Extension. The other thing that we know is really important is that machine design has become much better. We have roll bars, roll over protection on tractors, all of our tractors and other types of machinery are now well guarded and well shielded. In sectors like the dairy industry, we see modernization with dairy parlors and other types of facility improvements that reduce the accidental contact with big animals which is another typical cause of fatal farm injuries. So, it’s a combination of education, but also a lot of engineering and design that has gone into improving the workplace.
Lorre Kolb: So, what are things that can make a difference this fall, especially during harvesting?
John Shutske: Well, it’s important for everybody to recognize that this farm safety issue really does impact everybody. It’s not just the farmer, but it’s also people that are out on the public highways, sharing the roadways with large silage harvesting equipment, with grain combines, and tractors, and wagons, and big trucks, and things like that. So, that’s the first thing is to recognize that in the next couple months it’s going to be a busy time on Wisconsin farms. So, being alert, slowing down. It’s also important if you’re a farmer, or if you’re any person who has even a small acreage, to make sure you have the right type of personal protective equipment. So, a lot of farmers are injured when they’re doing things that are pretty routine tasks. So, making sure you have things like safety glasses, hearing protection, gloves, and other types of protective equipment. And then the other thing is making sure that all of your hired employees are well trained, well educated. If they speak a language other than English make sure that that training, education, and demonstration is done in a language that they understand.
Lorre Kolb: We’ve been visiting today John Shutske, Director of the UW Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Lorre Kolb.