Farm Safety and Health Message: ‘No One Can Take Your Place’

Harvest season, full of activity for those working the equipment at getting the grains and products to the bids. Yet also with increased emphasis that safety is practiced, no matter if it is the farmer, those living or working on the farm, or motorists who drive by farms and fields during this time of season.

I first started doing ag safety back in the year 2000. We were averaging about 730 fatalities. Then the last year we have data for is 2021 and there were 453 fatalities, so we’re going in the right direction.

Dan Neenan of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety and other farm safety and health advocates acknowledge more can be done, so they continue to spread safety messages both during a recognized farm safety week campaign And throughout the year. Coming up, a look at National Farm Safety and Health Week 2023 in this edition of Agriculture USA.

The third week of September is the annual observation and promotion period for National Farm Safety and Health Week, or put another way, about the time harvest starts or is underway in much of the nation as Dan Neenan of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety explains.

National Farm Safety and Health Week is actually one of the longest presidential proclamation weeks in the nation. Actually FDR signed the first one back in 1944. And it’s been continuous since then.

And in discussing the timing of the annual awareness campaign, Neenan points out…

Farm Safety and Health Week is that one week of the year that the media kind of helps along and getting that safety message out not only to the farmers but also to the motoring public because as we get into fall harvest season. The days are getting shorter unfortunately, and there’ll be farm equipment out on the road we’ll be sharing the road with the motoring public and they need to understand we need to be out there doing that. We are big, we are slower and moving, and if they just have a little bit of patience with us, we can share the road and both get to where we’re going safely.

Themes are associated with National Farm Safety and Health Week, and for 2023, that theme is,

No one can take your place. The theme this message conveys is, unfortunately so with the number of fatalities that we’re having or even the injuries, if it’s time off. It’s not typically like there’s another employee that’s there on the family farm that can take over those jobs as you heal. They just don’t get done to be able to do it. And of course if there’s a fatality, there’s a gaping hole, and sometimes that leads to the sale of the family farm to do that. So that is our overall message.

As with past Farm Safety and Health Weeks, this year’s campaign contains daily topics of emphasis with education provided through available safety education resources, webinars and videos and localized outreach starting with September 18

Monday is Equipment and Rural Roadway Safety.

Which contains important safety information for both drivers of farm equipment and vehicles and motorists in general.

From the motoring public side we want to talk about passing farm equipment if you can’t pass out your equipment under no passing zone Second of all is to be taking a look for that ag equipment to be making left turns and the farmstead from a farmer side of it. To take the time before you head out on the road. Make sure that all your lighting is working and that you’re marking is clean, visible and retro reflective and also that it shows the size of the piece of equipment.

Other topics during National Farm Safety and Health Week will focus on health and wellness.

The farmer taking care of themselves. They’re going to be putting on some long hours during harvest. So if they’re taking medications and especially medications that are dependent upon food that they take the time to take a break.

Priority populations with examples including…

Take a look at the kids and what is appropriate jobs for them to be able to do on the farm. Elderly farming farmers work well past what would be normally considered a retirement age and if you take a look at the loss of sensory with hearing loss, they may not have the dexterity that they once had. We need to be remembering around some pretty dangerous equipment

Safety awareness for farmers inside confined spaces such as grade bits, and brain health.

Typically your family farmer is working alone don’t really have anybody they can bounce some of their concerns and worries out about so Friday’s we’re taking a look at brain health and what a farmer can do to make sure that they’re keeping their brain and their thought process healthy and what’s going on.

More details about farm safety and health awareness and tips in general are available through local Cooperative Extension offices and their websites as well as other online resources such as regional centers for Agricultural Safety and Health. Additional information about Farm Safety and Health Week is available via

Image courtesy National Education Center for Agricultural Safety