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Wisconsin Ag News Headlines
It's National Farm Safety & Health Week!
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 09/22/2008

The fall harvest is a busy time around the farm, but it's also one of the deadliest. That's why the National Safety Council holds National Farm Safety and Health Week each September. According to state and federal health officials, agriculture is still one of the most dangerous industries in the country. About 28 of every 100,000 farmers and their employees died of work injuries in 2006. Five years ago, the death rate from work injuries was 30 per 100,000 farmers. Out of this same 100,000 farmers, 6,000 were injured on the job that same year.

Cheryl Skjolaas, an agricultural safety specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Extension, says the forage harvesting starts in June and continues through November when the last of the grains are harvested. But with the hectic schedules that many farmers have, their knowledge of safety precautions are often forgotten while working in the fields.

Meanwhile, one of the themes the Council is focusing on this year is safety on the roadways.

"If you have to move equipment on public roads, it's a good idea to check out the route ahead of time so you know where the hazards are," Skjolaas said. "Try to move the equipment at a time of day when the traffic is light. And be sure to replace any broken lights, clean the 'slow moving vehicle' or SMV sign and make sure you're as visible as possible."

She also calls on other vehicle drivers to be alert, as well.

"It's legal to drive farm machinery on public roads. It's often the only way farmers can get from field to field. But the mix of slow traveling farm equipment and speedier cars poses hazards," Skjolaas says. "It's important to be alert and remember that these farm vehicles don't behave like cars and trucks when it comes to speed, turning or braking."

A majority of farm equipment and motor vehicle crashes occur when the farm equipment operator slows down to turn and the motor vehicle operator moves to pass. When you pass farm machinery, make sure the driver is not about to turn left. Before you decide to pass, look for driveways into farms or fields where the farm vehicle operator could be turning. Also, make sure the road is wide enough and watch for road-side obstacles such as mailboxes that might cause the equipment operator to drift to the left.

The 2008 event marks the 65th consecutive signing of a farm safety and health week proclamation by a U.S. President, beginning with Franklin Roosevelt in 1944.

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