Farm safety education group going strong after 25 years

A farm safety expert says fewer children have been injured on farms in the last 25 years, but more prevention and education are still needed.

Barb Lee is the founder and director of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, which along with the National Farm Medicine Center is supported by the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute.

Lee tells Brownfield the rate of non-fatal serious injuries has declined by about 60% over the past 25 years, but the number of child deaths on the farm has remained constant. “So, young people who are working on farms are about eight times more likely to die at work than their friends, who are working in other types of jobs.”

Lee says tractors remain the most common cause of injuries and death for children on the farm, but other machines are just as dangerous. “The other thing that’s popping up more frequently now is skid steers and that they’re smaller, more people are using them, they tend to have young people operating them, so that’s a growing concern for us. And then obviously, ATV’s and UTV’s.”

Lee emphasizes that young people working on the farm need to have the size and cognitive skills to handle the task and related machinery, and small children should be kept away from the farm’s work zones.

Lee says an online program celebrating 25 years is planned for Thursday to look back and to plan future safety education. “We’ll have about a fifteen to twenty-minute slide show of highlights of the last 25 years, what has changed, and where are the gaps, where should we be focusing our attention in the future?”

The center’s researchers say about every three days, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident, and each day, at least 33 children are injured.   

Barb Lee with the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety discusses 25 years of safety education, trends, and more with Brownfield’s Larry Lee.


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