University of Vermont

Farming Across Cultures Communication Program

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It's rarely an "accident"

Injuries and deaths on farms rarely result from accidents. So, are people intentionally hurting and killing themselves? No. But most injuries and deaths on farms result from unintentional and completely preventable causes.

The word "accident" suggests that mishaps are caused by forces entirely beyond our control. On the farm, this is rarely true. A ladder patched one too many times -- a seat belt not fastened -- transporting workers to the field on a tractor fender -- when these situations lead to death, it's no "accident."

Hurting someone intentionally is different than knowing you could have prevented an injury or death, but the result is the same.

Thousands of farmers are injured or killed every year in preventable incidents. Agriculture remains one of the most dangerous occupations in America, when it could be one of the safest because the vast majority of injuries and deaths in agriculture are preventable.

The next time you read about someone being killed or injured on a farm, ask yourself, "Was it really an accident?"

As an agricultural employer, you have many concerns: getting supplies in, getting shipments out, prices, equipment failures, dealing with management and workers -- the list could go on. With all these concerns, the very last thing you want or need is an unintentional injury or death in your operation. Worker health and safety should be your top priority, because no matter how efficient your operation, unintentional injuries and deaths can destroy morale, lower productivity, and expose owners to liabilities and lawsuits.

Safety training with a workforce that has limited to low English skills should be done with an interpreter to ensure full comprehension of the topics and instructions discussed. Safety training needs to be incorporated into new worker trainings as well as follow up trainings. Use of machinery such as a skid steer, tractor, or power tools needs to be preceded by instructions on the use of such machinery or tools. Simply asking an employee if he or she knows how to use the equipment is not enough.

There are numerous guides and resources to help you make sure your training on the farm is comprehensive. A number of farm safety resources are also available in Spanish which can help reinforce the training that is done.

Ag Tailgate Safety Training Modules Links[English & Spanish]
Safety Risk Factors on a Dairy Farm
Safety Fact Sheet Skidsteer
Safety Fact Sheets ATV
Cattle Safety
Livestock Safety
OSHA Safety and Compliance for those with Hispanic Employees


A Farm Accident Can Happen to Anyone One Of Us - Part 1
A Farm Accident Can Happen to Anyone One Of Us - Part 2
Un Accidente en una Granja Nos Puede Pasar a Cualquiera Parte 1
Un Accidente en una Granja Nos Puede Pasar a Cualquiera Parte 2

Last modified October 17 2011 10:36 AM

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