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Make 2012 harvest a safe one

Illinois saw an overall reduction in farm-related fatalities last year. An accident-free harvest season should be everyone’s goal.

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

Working on Illinois farms was a safer proposition in 2011, according to a survey by Country Financial.

While 20 people lost their lives in farm-related accidents last year, that number is quite a decline from the 39 deaths in 2010.

During National Farm Safety and Health Week, a review of last year’s improved statistics is in order.

Tractor rollovers and run-overs accounted for eight deaths. Seven people were killed in roadway collisions.

Three died in electrocutions, a number that includes the deaths of two 14-year-old girls from Sterling who were detasseling corn near Tampico.

One person suffocated in a grain bin.

One farm-related death was not classified, which probably refers to the heat-related death of a Mexican migrant worker as he detasseled corn near Tampico.

The reduction in grain bin deaths (10 were killed the previous year) was attributed to several factors. Stored corn was dry, which made grain handling safer. Also, an all-out safety campaign by the Grain Handling Safety Coalition likely had an effect. The safety project was begun after two Carroll County teens suffocated in a Mount Carroll grain bin in 2010.

Farms remain hazardous places. A rural Tampico teenager died in early July after being run over by a farm machine.

Harvest time means that farmers, family members and farm workers will be traveling to and from fields with combines, tractors, trucks, wagons and other large pieces of equipment.

Such machinery should be marked with slow-moving-vehicle emblems while on roadways. Farmers and motorists must exercise extra care when they share the road.

As farmers move equipment, they should be aware of the locations of other workers and family members.

If the equipment is oversized, farmers should have a spotter on the ground to avoid overhead power lines. The Energy Education Council reminds us that an average of 62 farm workers are electrocuted each year.

An accident-free harvest season should be everyone’s goal.

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