The annual Iowa Farm Safety and Health Week is being held in conjunction with the 71st annual National Farm Safety and Health Week, September 21-27, 2014.
Governor Terry Branstad has proclaimed this week as Iowa Farm Safety and Health Week. The farm safety and health promotion is following the national theme: "Safety Counts: Protecting What Matters." The national effort is coordinated by the National Safety Council and supported by various organizations and groups interested in agricultural safety.
The special recognition week began in 1944, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first proclamation for farm safety due to the impact the high injury rate in agriculture was making on the war effort. Now, agriculture has the highest annual death rate per 100,000 workers in the nation, surpassing industries including mining, construction and manufacturing.
Iowa Farm Safety Council reinforces the safety message
The Iowa Farm Safety Council continues to use the proclamation to reinforce the safety message, especially during harvest time, says council president Chuck Schwab. He's a professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and is the Extension safety specialist at Iowa State University.
In Iowa, farm safety efforts are a unique partnership between various organizations. "The Iowa Farm Safety Council, with volunteers, strives to increase knowledge about agricultural hazards and dangers," says Schwab. "Together we encourage Iowans to make better safety and health decisions this harvest season and during the next year."
Serious injuries and death can be prevented by:
cautiously approaching field adjustments or repairs,
taking precautions to avoid slips and falls,
making smart decisions while assigning tasks to youth,
using and maintaining the slow moving vehicle emblem SMV correctly, and
retrofitting tractors with rollover structures (ROPS).
The Iowa Farm Safety Council also is urging Iowans to support the Iowa Farm Safety and Health Day for Children and Youth on September 24. During this time, others are encouraged to adopt safe practices and behaviors to prevent injuries during harvest season.
All Iowans need to keep safety in mind this harvest season
Iowans are reminded to use caution in the weeks ahead as the state's farmers bring in this year's huge corn and soybean crops. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is encouraging farmers and those living in and traveling through rural Iowa to stay safe this harvest season.
"Iowa looks to have very large crop this year, which means long days and more trips on the road. It is important everyone in rural Iowa keep safety in mind throughout the harvest season," notes Northey. "Harvest is a great time on the farm, but it is also very busy and can be stressful. It is important everyone working on the farm and Iowans traveling through the rural parts of our state stay alert and take the necessary time to make sure we have a successful and safe harvest season."
Beware of slow moving equipment and more trucks on roadways
Tips for farmers include using the slow moving vehicle emblem on all appropriate tractors and equipment and making sure the emblems are in good shape and visible. Also, be aware of flowing grain and avoid flowing grain suffocation hazards while unloading bins and wagons. Retrofitting older tractors with a rollover protective structure is another important safety measure.
Harvest season is also a time when motorists traveling through rural Iowa need to be alert to potentially slow moving equipment and should be prepared to take a little more time if necessary. The Iowa Department of Transportation has a video entitled "Rural Roadway Crashes – They're Preventable" that has more information on how to safely travel Iowa's rural roads. It is available on their website.
More farm safety information is available from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach or from the Iowa Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH).
MidAmerican Energy also encourages farmers to use caution around powerlines when moving equipment. For a reminder about best practices for staying safe, go to www.midamericanenergy.com/safety.