Each year, several hundred farmers and farm workers die from work-related injuries, and tens of thousands more are injured in the United States. Many of these deaths and injuries are preventable by implementing safe working and operating procedures at the farm.
In Colorado, most of the agriculture-related fatalities are attributed to the operation of machinery, including tractors. Other major causes of fatalities result from electrical accidents (12%); injury by animals (8%); drowning (7%); and chemicals (2%). Prevention starts by:
- Knowing how to operate machinery safely, and applying those safety practices;
- Being cautious and alert around animals;
- Safe chemical use, including safety gear;
- Locating power lines before moving augers and irrigation pipes;
- Restricting children from equipment and irrigation canals; and
- Never allowing passengers on tractors unless a seat is provided.
Roll-overs are common when tractors are not properly operated. Always drive down hill with conventional-style tractors (rear wheels larger than front wheels) where 35% of the weight is in the front; 65% is in the rear. Newer tractors are equipped with a rollover protective structure (ROPS). Always operate ROPS-equipped tractors with the seatbelt fastened. Only non-ROPS or non-roll-bar-equipped tractors can be operated without a seatbelt; however, ROPS devices are available for older tractors. Only one tractor death has been reported for an operator wearing a seatbelt with a properly-installed ROPS. Deaths are reported, however, for ROPS-equipped tractors whose operators did not wear seatbelts. It is more dangerous to not wear a seatbelt with ROPS than to have no ROPS at all.
Livestock safety involves calm, quiet, and careful handling to reduce the handler’s injury potential. Animals are not always predictable, so accidents can happen. Keeping livestock calm reduces the chance they will react to outside influences. Intact males often have a greater potential to harm handlers than do other animals. Never allow small children in pens with intact any type of livestock. Horses generally injure and kill more people than do other types of livestock. Young or inexperienced riders should wear a riding helmet, as should experienced riders. Safety on the farm or ranch begins with common sense. Focus on the task at hand, and take frequent breaks to reduce mental or physical fatigue.
General Tractor Safety. CSU Ext. Fact Sheet 5.016