safety at harvest

Harvest Safety

The harvest is in full swing and businesses connected to agriculture feel the pressure to get the bounty from field to table as quickly as possible. For family and corporate farms alike, the busy season brings longer hours, more work, and much more opportunity for injury.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publish quite a bit on the topic of agricultural safety. Farming is among the most hazardous industries and it is also an occupation that puts children and young adults at risk more than any other occupation. “On average, 113 youth less than 20 years of age die annually from farm-related injuries,” notes the site. Machinery is responsible for a bulk of the fatalities, but farming also exposes workers to pesticides, which can lead to breathing issues and neurological problems, as well. The site also notes that 167 agricultural workers a day suffer an injury that causes them to miss work.

Keeping safe

The CDC reports that one of the most effective safety precautions a farmer can take is installing rollover protection devices like tractors and combines, which can be expensive, depending on the type of equipment that’s being protected. A newer program available to farmers is the “Cost-effective Rollover Protective Structures” or CROPS, which was developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Safety Research and Protective Technology Branch as a lower-cost way to help prevent a tractor from rolling over.

Safety issues extend far beyond machinery, however, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published a Farm Safety fact sheet that provides an overview of all the safety concerns on a farm, urging famers to always use the right protective equipment, even if it’s a simple pair of gloves. The publication also urges farm owners and managers to have disaster plans in place for emergencies that can happen on the farm.

Commercial and family farmers also need to maintain health and safety standards when using pesticides. Regulations covering the use of pesticides require that farm owners and employers provide the appropriate protection to workers who handle pesticides, and train them on the safe use of chemicals and pesticides. Current standards are published on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

Insuring against injury

The best insurance against injury on the farm is safety, and it’s critical that everyone working on the farm knows and understands proper precautions and procedures, particularly during harvest when extra workers are being hired. The next most important insurance is having the correct procedures in place and known to everyone – from first aid stations to emergency evacuation plans.

Insurance comes after the fact when it comes to injuries on the farm, but it’s important to make sure you’re covered for injuries for yourself, your family, your employees and seasonal employees and your property. It’s also a very good idea to check in with your insurance provider and/or local university extension to see make sure your practices and procedures are current – particularly when it comes to chemical and pesticide use.

Farm owners who feel they need more coverage might want to consider the benefits they can get from an enterprise risk captive. Contact us if we can provide you with additional information on how a captive can insure you if you find it difficult to buy an appropriate plan on the commercial market, or if deductibles are getting too high and you’d like to reduce costs.