Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has proclaimed the week of Sept. 20-26 Farm Safety and Health Week in Kentucky to raise awareness of the unique hazards of agriculture and encourage farmers to make ag safety part of their everyday lifestyle.
“Farmers encounter a wide variety of risks from machinery, livestock, chemicals, grain silos, and many other potential dangers,” Comer said. “A death or serious injury of a farmer hurts an entire family. Kentucky farmers can minimize the risks to themselves and their loved ones by making safety their top priority at all times.”
With harvest season under way, farmers must move equipment on roadways, and Comer urged farmers and motorists to share the road.
“That farmer driving a tractor or combine on the road is trying to make a living,” Comer said. “You can help that farmer reach his or her destination safely by slowing down and giving them plenty of room to maneuver. With an abundance of caution and cooperation, we can all keep our roadways safe.”
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Farm & Home Safety Program is commemorating Farm Safety and Health Week with “Pep Rallies for Life” at high schools across the Commonwealth. The first pep rally took place last week at Letcher County Central High School. In a “Pep Rally for Life,” cheerleaders lead students in safety cheers, and local emergency responders treat the “victims” of a mock tractor or all-terrain vehicle accident to sharpen their skills and to demonstrate the consequences of a bad decision or a careless moment.
Kentucky recorded 14 farming-related fatalities in 2014, the Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program reported, compared with 22 in 2011 and 50 in 1995. On a percentage basis, farming remains one of the most dangerous occupations in the nation, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Kentucky was third in the nation with 116 ATV-related fatalities from 2010-2013, behind only West Virginia and Texas, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported.
The KDA’s Farm & Home Safety Program travels all over Kentucky to deliver farm, ATV, and lawn mower safety demonstrations. The program operates a one-of-a-kind rollover tractor simulator that demonstrates how a rollover protective structure (ROPS) and seat belt can save a tractor operator from injury or death in the event of a rollover. The program uses a miniature grain bin and gravity wagon to show the risk of becoming trapped in grain, and a power-take-off (PTO) demonstration apparatus that demonstrates the dangers of getting caught in a moving PTO, which is a rapidly rotating drive shaft used to power farm implements.
For more information and farm safety tips, go to www.kyagr.com/marketing/farm-safety.html.