New council will tackle ag hazards

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MARSHFIELD, Wis. — Agriculture is consistently among the most hazardous occupations in the United States. In an average year, 516 workers die while doing farm work and each day, about 243 workers suffer lost-time injuries.

Agriculture, due to its decentralized nature and diverse structure, lags behind other industries in reducing the toll on its workers with a fatality rate that is eight times that of the all-industry average.

National strategy

The Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America is working to close that safety gap. The new council, driven by farmer/rancher and agribusiness leaders, is the first of its kind in the U.S. to pursue a national strategy to reduce disease, injuries and fatalities in American agriculture.

“What’s encouraging is the combination of people coming together — farmers and ranchers, organizations that represent them, insurance companies, equipment companies — that all have this common interest and need,” said William Nelson, the first elected chair of the new council.

The group is building on the success of similar national initiatives in Australia and Canada.

Representatives

Organizations represented on the board of directors include many familiar names: AGCO Corp., Agri-Services Agency, American Farm Bureau Federation, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, CropLife Foundation, Farm Employers Labor Service, Workers Compensation Fund-Utah, National Institute for Farm Safety, National Pork Board and Penn State University.

The council’s official mission is: “To proactively address ongoing and emerging occupational safety and health issues affecting U.S. agriculture.”

Goals for the council include:

  • Pursue national strategies to reduce agricultural injuries and fatalities, based on reliable data and emerging issues.
  • Influence research priorities to rapidly identify best management practices for worker safety and health that maximize cost efficiency and sustainability.
  • Guide the development of effective delivery systems for safety and health through communications involving leaders representing producers, agribusiness, insurance, safety associations and others.
  • More information

    For information, contact the Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America at 1000 N. Oak Ave., ML1, Marshfield, WI, 54449, visit www.ashca.org or phone 715-221-7270.

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