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It's Farm Safety Week. Use Caution on Roadways During Harvest
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 09/21/2020

Between school buses and farm equipment, motorists in rural Wisconsin are seeing more activity on local roads and highways these days. As a result, a coalition of farm and traffic safety groups are asking drivers to be more cautious.

The week of September 20 is National Farm Safety Week to make farmers and motorists more cautious during the harvest season.

"Farmers are clearly critical and are recognized nationwide as being part of a vital and essential part of our economy and workforce even during challenging times," said John Shutske, professor and director of UW Center for Agricultural Safety and Health and Extension specialist. "We often talk about farming being the nation's most dangerous occupation as is measured by the number of deaths per 100,000 workers. Those who work on farms and ranches experience a fatality rate that is about seven times higher than the average of all workers in the U.S. – even when you include those who work in manufacturing, mining, construction, and service industries."

Cheryl Skjolaas, an agricultural safety specialist with the Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, says it's also important to note that progress has been made in efforts to keep people safe on the farm.

"Farms have gotten safer – even in the past few decades. The current rate of workplace fatalities in farming as is documented by the National Safety Council, is 22.8 per 100,000 workers – it was 42 per 100,000 in 1990 – so we have seen a 46% reduction in the per capita death rate during that 30-year time period," Skjolaas said. "But, this did not happen without huge effort and specific, positive, measurable action and attention."

Motorists are asked to be patient when encountering farm machinery on the road. They should only pass farm machinery when in a passing zone and when it is safe to pass. Farmers are asked to have proper SMV signs and lighting. They should also check blinds spots before crossing roadways and making turns on roads.

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