Farming Safety Emphasized at Watermelon Meeting

By Clint Thompson

Farming is an inherently dangerous occupation. But growers don’t usually think about the dangers that come with driving a tractor and working with various pieces of equipment. Not when it is a practice they have done day in and day out for decades.

Farm safety

It is a concept not lost on Serap Gorucu, assistant professor in the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. She highlighted the dangers of farming during the annual Suwanee Valley Watermelon Institute meeting in Fanning Springs, Florida, on Thursday, Dec. 1

“You don’t want to have any lost time because of injury. There’s an economic side of it. For a shoulder injury for example, it’s about $20,000 for the cost of the injury. I don’t think anybody can afford that, especially right now,” Gorucu said. “It’s important for productivity because you lose time. You have to make sure you are safe and your loved ones are safe.”

Statistics tell the story of how dangerous agriculture can be. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 511 people were killed in agricultural related incidents in the U.S. in 2020. The fatality rate for Ag workers is six times higher than other industries.

Transportation accidents are most common and potentially most dangerous, as farmers transport machinery on roadways. Ag equipment crashes are five times more fatal than non-agriculture crashes.

Farmers have a habit of completing the same tasks every day without thinking too much about the inherent risks they are taking. But there are measures that growers can implement every day to stay safe.

“(Growers) want to focus on the work to be done at the end of the day,” she said. “(But) before you operate your vehicle, check your vehicle to see if it’s safe or not. It prevents you later from losing time. I don’t think they put enough time or effort into it, especially when the economy is tight, and their mind is thinking about other stuff. It’s hard to focus on your safety.”