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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, August 13, 2017 1:00 am

Ag work hazardous, state figures show

Of 115 fatalities recorded in 2015, 27 were of farmers

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

Whether they involve working with animals or equipment, farming jobs are hazardous, according to the Indiana Department of Labor.

Of the 115 Indiana workplace fatalities recorded in 2015, the most recent data available, 27 of them involved farming-related occupations, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS includes only those deaths that take place on farms that employ 11 or more workers. Fatalities on smaller, family farms aren't reflected in the numbers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 1.8 million people were employed full time in agriculture in 2009. That same year, 440 farmers and farm workers died from work-related injuries, resulting in a fatality rate of 24.7 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Each day, about 243 farm workers are injured seriously enough that they have to miss some work. Of those, 5 percent are permanently impaired, according to the BLS.

The leading cause of fatal farm injuries is tractor overturns, which are responsible for more than 90 deaths a year. 

The website hobbyfarms.com offers safety tips for agriculture workers.

They include:

• Don't wear loose clothing around equipment or work areas.

• Use safety equipment the way it was intended, including gloves, safety eyewear and hearing protection.

• Always have a helper nearby when entering grain bins, breeding pens or other high-risk areas.

• Keep tractor roll-over protection structures in place.

• Prohibit riders on tractor fenders, hitches, attachments or implements.

• Never start or run gas or diesel engines in an enclosed area without being assured of good ventilation.

• Never exit a tractor or truck without placing it in park or engaging the emergency brakes.

• Never leave running power equipment unattended.

sslater@jg.net