New studies find farming remains one of the world’s most dangerous professions. Iowa State University Extension agricultural engineer, Chuck Schwab, is reminding Iowans in the industry to slow down and take breaks.
“Agriculture, the industry as a whole, had roughly 2.2 deaths per 100,000 workers, which makes it the highest industry in the United States for the death rate,” Schwab says. That surpasses mining, construction, manufacturing and transportation. He says one reason for agriculture being so high with injuries and deaths is because it involves so many people from a wide age demographic.
“We see a lot of the older farmers being hurt and again, when you’re talking about a uniqueness to this industry, agriculture doesn’t have that cap where when you get to 65, you stop farming.” While older farmers may have many decades of experience, he says some of the tasks of farming become much more difficult and dangerous, the older you get.
“What happens with older farmers, you tend to have different reactions times, you have balance issues, hearing issues, sight,” Schwab says. “All these senses play a role in how you make good, safe decisions and how to avoid injuries.” The same is true with younger generations, he says.
The best thing a farmer of any age can do, according to Schwab, is take a break from the action and have a moment of rest. “The more your body is working and focused on a task without that break, you have a tendency to maybe not see some of the things that you would normally see,” Schwab says. “Or you put yourself at risk. You need to be hydrated. You need to have energy for your body.”
Besides helping your body recover, taking a break can also give your brain a rest from thinking about the chores at hand and you can come back to the job thinking more clearly.
(By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)