Group emphasizes ag safety in 2015

The annual cost of occupational injuries in agriculture is $8.3 billion in medical costs and lost productivity.

Four hundred eighty farm work-related deaths occur per year for an annual rate of 22.2 deaths per 100,000 workers, according to a new Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America (ASHCA) fact sheet about the agriculture workforce, the economic toll of worker injuries, and the benefits of investing in safety.

Across all industries, agriculture/forestry/fishing has the highest rate of occupational deaths, followed by transportation, mining and construction, noted the group, adding that the annual cost of occupational injuries in agriculture is $8.3 billion in medical costs and lost productivity. The typical cost of one tractor overturn alone is $1 million.

An effective safety program, however, saves $4 to $6 for every $1 invested, according to ASHCA, a not-for-profit coalition of agribusinesses, producer organizations and safety professionals.

“Every day, about 38 children are injured and only 20% of them were working when injured.” Additionally, an estimated 115 children die in the farm workplace each year, noted the group, adding that 80% of them are only merely present and not working.

Tractors are blamed as the leading cause of death in agriculture, with about 125 per year, while other deaths involve livestock, falls from heights and suffocation from grain or gases.

The group explained that even the most efficient machinery production systems require human operators and that safety reduces worker injuries/illness and ultimately costs.

“The world will need 70% more food by 2050 for the predicted 9.5 billion people,” explained the group. “Productive, efficient agriculture includes the preservation and well-being of agricultural workers at every level.”

To access the ASHCA’s safety fact sheet, visit http://www.ashca.org.

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