Last Chance to Become a Certified Safe Farm

— Written By Zack Taylor and last updated by

You’ve seen my articles about becoming a certified safe farm before. You know that this program can benefit your farm and help keep you and your employees and families safer. So, what are you waiting for?

Here are some things we know about the agriculture industry in the United States. Out of all industries, the sector of agriculture, forestry, and commercial fishing has the highest rate of occupational deaths. On average, there are 480 farm-work related deaths every year, a rate of 22.2 per 100,000 workers. Not only that, but every year, 115 children between the ages of 0 and 19 die on a farm, and 4 out of 5 of those children were present in the workplace but not working. If you are a family farmer, like most of our farms are, the farm is home, and fatal injuries can occur anywhere on the farm. But not all injuries are fatal. Every day 38 children are injured in on farm accidents, and again, only 20% of them are working when the injury occurred. An additional 167 agricultural workers suffer lost time injuries every day, and 5% of those injuries involve some sort of permanent impairment. Just like in any business, time is money, and if you or an employee is unable to work, that means less income in an already strapped market. Studies have shown that a good safety program saves 4 to 6 dollars for every 1 dollar invested in the program.

Many of these injuries can be avoided. Accidents and injuries occur every day due to slips and falls. There are a number of ways these types of accidents can be prevented or avoided, including improving lighting, keeping doorways clean, using grip tape on steps and ladders, and keeping the workplace tidy. Tractor injuries are the leading cause of death in on farm accidents. Many of these accidents can be avoided as well by inspecting machinery to ensure safety shields are in place and working properly, and that the operator’s area is clear of clutter. Checking that all lights and safety markers are in place and working can also help reduce the risk of an accident on the road. Many injuries occur when working with livestock. Simply taking the time to clean and inspect working areas can help to greatly reduce this risk.

By becoming a Certified Safe Farm, you can help reduce the risk of these types of accidents on your farm. Becoming certified is easy. Just contact me, Zack Taylor, at the extension office. We can schedule a date that works best for you, visit your farm along with a representative from NC State, and perform a visual inspection of your farm. This is not a regulatory process, just a chance for an outside set of eyes to look at the farm and help identify possible safety hazards that you may have never noticed. Upon passing this inspection, you will become a Certified Safe Farm. You will be recognized with a sign you can proudly display and may qualify for reduced insurance rates, and even some cost share money to help invest in safety improvements around the farm. Cost share is now easier than ever, as you can now directly order items using cost share funds or just turn in receipts! You also have the option to go one step further and become a Gold Star Certified Safe Farm, by getting a health screening for just $10 per employee. The health screening checks blood pressure, blood sugar, hearing, lung function, vision, skin cancer and more, making it quite a deal.

Time is running out to participate in this program. All visits must be completed by June 1, and cost share must be applied for by June 16. If you are a farm owner, large or small, and interested in improving safety on your farm and lowering insurance premiums, schedule an appointment today. It may save your own life or that of a loved one, and will almost certainly increase your farm productivity. Learn more about the program at https://appliedecology.cals.ncsu.edu/certified-safe-farm/, or call North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center at 919-775-5624 to ask questions and sign up.

Zack Taylor is the Agriculture Agent (Field Crops and Livestock) for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.