(Sept. 22, 2011)
Recent farm-related deaths as well as fall harvest gathering momentum point to the importance of farm safety. That's why the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute
is focusing special attention on farm health and safety during this week’s National Farm Safety and Health Week.
Last week, a farmhand was killed near Stokes when a tractor he was refueling ran over him. And in July, a Greenville man was killed when he rear-ended a farm tractor being driven illegally on U.S. 264 near Mozingo Road.
The Agromedicine Institute is a partnership of East Carolina University, N.C. A&T State University and N.C. State University and collaborates with many state and community partners. This week, the institute's community of safety and health researchers and educators urges farmers, farmworkers and their families to take time to recognize hazards in their workplace and take steps to reduce risks.
In a typical year, 551 workers die while doing agricultural work in the United States, and about 88,000 suffer lost-time injuries. Most of these incidents are preventable.
"Already this year in North Carolina, we have learned of three on-farm machinery fatalities and three farm equipment-motor vehicle roadway fatalities," said Robin Tutor, interim director of the NCAI. "Thankfully, another fatality was prevented when a farmer rolled over his tractor but was saved because of a properly installed rollover protective structure. These occurrences remind us of the importance of the institute's work with community partners to provide education/outreach and prevention/intervention services not only to our state's farms but also to the public that interfaces with them."
Several ongoing institute projects are addressing critical health and safety issues for North Carolina's farmers and farmworkers:
--AgriSafe and Certified Safe Farm Programs: More than 60 farmers in Johnston, Duplin and Sampson counties have completed extensive on-farm safety reviews with specially trained extension agents; many have also completed occupational health screenings with specially trained AgriSafe nurses. Cost-share funds are available for making recommended health and safety improvements. This pilot project will continue through June and is funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.
--N.C. AgrAbility Program: This program assists North Carolina’s agricultural work force, their families and communities by facilitating the means to continue farming with a disability and by providing a support network. AgrAbility addresses disabilities such as spinal cord injuries and amputations and conditions, such as arthritis. This four-year project was recently funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
--Risk Mitigation Measures Project: This project educates farmers across North Carolina about new requirements for use of soil fumigants and provides assistance with personal protective equipment selection, medical clearance and fit tests. The project is funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.
--Rolling out the Pesticides and Farmworker Health Toolkit: Train-the-trainer workshops are available for this new, engaging and highly visual pesticide safety educational resource in Spanish and English for 11 crops. The toolkit includes flipcharts, handouts and interactive activities and is EPA-approved for worker protection standard training. More information is online at http://go.ncsu.edu/pesticide-toolkit. This project is funded by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund.
The mission of the institute mission is to develop solutions for agricultural hazards, collaborate on strategies for preventing injury and illness, and work with communities to promote health and safety through its research, education and intervention programs. The institute is funded solely by grants. Secure online donations designating "agromedicine" may be made at https://onestop.ecu.edu/onlinegiving