'This Is A Very Hazardous Occupation' - Farmers, Families & Communities Prep For Planting Season

Feb 16, 2021

Snow, cold or COVID, spring is on its way and in Illinois, that means farmers will be planting soon. The University of Illinois Extension is offering a free Zoom webinar on Thursday about safety during the planting season.

History shows that agriculture-related injuries increase in the spring. Illinois Extension specialist Josie Rudolphi is one of the lecturers. She says farming is stressful and in the rush to get plants in the ground, there is always an uptick in injuries.

Credit Illinois Extension

"We see a lot of pinch," she said. "We see a lot of cuts and lacerations. We see people getting run over or crushed by equipment, especially in that preparation phase when they are working on equipment."

Rudolphi says one of the reasons there are accidents is because it's the first time being around farm equipment in months.

"Like anything, we have to re-orientate ourselves in this equipment," she said. "We've probably forgotten how some things operate. We make errors that we don't make when we're really comfortable with the equipment." 

Furthermore, Rudolphi says there is musculoskeletal discomfort that comes with the work.

"Because of working in stagnant positions for long periods of time and getting in or out of equipment," she said.

Other accidents that occur during the planting season take place on the road when farm equipment travels on the same highways as everyone else.

"We've enjoyed several months without that type of rural road traffic," she said. "I know everyone's in a hurry, but I would ask the public to just take a big breath and not be in a rush to get around the piece of equipment."

Rudolphi stressed the need for drivers to be extra careful when making left-hand turns or passes.

"A really important point is to watch for farm equipment that's making a left-hand turn into a driveway or into a field," she said. "Obviously we probably want to pass on the left side, but we see a lot of incidents where drivers want to make a left-hand pass while farmers also make a left-hand turn into the field and we have a crash."

The agricultural, forestry and fishing industry is the most dangerous of all occupational industries.

"You're eight time more likely to be killed in those occupation than you are in non-agricultural, forestry, fishing occupations," she said. "This is a very hazardous occupation."

Agricultural injuries -- and fatalities -- affect farmers, their families and their communities. And with the pandemic, there is an even greater need to emphasize the need for safety. Many students are learning from home this year. Some will finish up their remote learning and head into the fields to work. This extra help also increases the likelihood of young people involved in accidents and this is one more reason to get everyone -- no matter how young or old -- trained and ready for the planting season.

The one-hour Zoom event Preparing for a Safe Planting Season will begin at noon on Thursday, Feb. 18. Rudolphi will be joined by Salah Issa from the College of Agricultural and Biological Engineerings at the lecture. To register for the event, click here.