PRINCETON — The number of laborers and others killed in Illinois farm accidents is the lowest it has been in 35 years, according to statistics compiled by the Country Financial insurance firm.
According to Country Financial, 12 farm-related deaths were reported during the 2012-13 year, which ended June 30. For the same time period one year ago, 20 farm-related deaths were reported.
On Monday, Bureau County Coroner Janice Wamhoff said she would agree with the recent statistics on the decline of farm-related accidents. It’s been quite a while since she’s handled a farm accident death, she said.
As far as any possible reasons for those declines, Wamhoff said the farm machinery being produced now would have more safety devices on them, and people may be more aware of the dangers of operating farm machinery. Also, the general public may have a growing awareness of watching for farm machinery that may be traveling on the roads, she said.
Though the rate of farm-related fatalities continues to decline, the preliminary agriculture numbers still remain the highest of any industry sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows there are 21.2 deaths per 100,000 farm workers.
In observance of last week as National Farm Safety and Health Week, Chris Shivers, president of the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health, urged farmers as well as the general public to be aware that the most dangerous season of the year is here for farmers.
“These figures (on farm-related deaths) are especially relevant during harvest season, as farmers are putting in long hours under the stress of weather delays, equipment breakdowns and high operating costs,” Shivers said. “We urge farmers to set priorities to reduce the risk of injury to themselves, their family and their employees.”
On Monday, Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson said the farming community is doing a wonderful job in paying close attention to safety in their environment. However, the traveling public also needs to be aware of the fact that this is the harvest season, and farmers will be on the roads as they move from field to field, the sheriff said.
“What I’m most concerned about is our drivers who are not used to seeing the agriculture traffic on the roads,” Thompson said. “At the top of any rise in the road, they could come upon a big piece of farm machinery. We need to be especially aware of our farmers during this time of the year.”
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