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Illinois Farm Bureau and County Farm Bureaus participate in National Farm Safety and Health Week
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Illinois Farm Bureau and County Farm Bureaus participate in National Farm Safety and Health Week

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National Farm Safety & Health Week is Sept. 16-22 and it’s time to remind everyone working in agriculture to make health and safety a priority. This year’s theme, “Cultivating the Seeds of Safety,” brings to focus the importance of cultivating a safe and healthy lifestyle. Each day highlights a different health and safety topic:

  • Monday, September 17 – Rural Roadway Safety
  • Tuesday, September 18 – Health/Suicide/Opioids
  • Wednesday, September 19 – Child/Youth Health & Safety
  • Thursday, September 20 – Confined Spaces in Agriculture
  • Friday, September 21 – Tractor Safety

Harvest season is just around the corner. That means combines and farm equipment will begin traveling on country roads, and long days of hard work are ahead. Farmers and ag workers need to remember to take equipment safety seriously. Every tractor operator is responsible for ensuring the tractor does not present any unnecessary hazard to him/her, other farm workers, or innocent bystanders. Don’t wait until it’s too late before you take safety seriously.

There are many benefits to growing up on a farm, but it is well known that farms are dangerous places, and keeping children safe should be a top priority. A simple checklist can be used to perform safety checks on your farm, enhancing the safety of children who live, work and visit your farm.

While safety is top priority during this time of year, it is equally important for farmers and ag workers to take care of their own health as well. Last year, nearly 1,900 people died in Illinois of overdoses. Health officials are calling it an opioid crisis, and it’s hitting rural Illinois communities hard. Three out of every four farmers say it would be easy for someone in their community to access a large amount of prescription opioids or painkillers without a prescription. The opioid epidemic is devastating to its victims and their families. It has a compounding ripple effect throughout communities, affecting quality of life, economic opportunity, and rural prosperity. No corner of our country has gone untouched by the opioid crisis, but the impact of this issue on small towns and rural places has been particularly significant. Rates of drug-related deaths in rural areas has surpassed those in urban centers.

It is also important for farmers and ag workers to keep their physical and mental health at the forefront. Working long hours, often in the isolation of a combine or tractor, can wear on farmers. Remember to take occasional breaks and to talk to friends or family about your frustrations and stresses.

National Farm Safety & Health Week serves as a reminder to think about safety on rural roads, tractor safety, kids on the farm, confined spaces, and physical and mental health.

Tune in to RFD Radio Network during National Farm Safety Health Week to hear interviews on a variety of subjects. You can also visit the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (www.necasag.org) for daily webinars, or contact your county Farm Bureau for more information on these topics.

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