Health Check: Farm Safety

Mining, construction and farming: They are the top three most dangerous jobs in the United States. Farming ranks second. As fall harvest season approaches, this month's Health Check report puts the focus on farms. Find out why doctors want growers to put safety first.

Tim Dressen is a third-generation farmer. Over the years, he says the equipment has gotten bigger, better and faster. But it's still dangerous - especially this time of year.

"In the fall, when it's go-time and you're picking beans or corn, you want to go and you're not really thinking you just want to go, go. And that's when the bad stuff happens, " said Dressen.

The bad stuff - can be deadly.

There were about 475 farm-related deaths nationwide last year.
Tractor rollovers caused about half of them.

And Tim says augers are just as dangerous.

"One second the auger's got you and you're gone. I mean it's just that fast," said Dreesen.

And the danger sign posted on grain bins says it all. If grain is being removed from a bin and a person gets caught inside, chances are they won't make it out."

Dr. Matthew Beacom, "You don't have to look around in little towns and see people are missing a finger or part of a hand or arm of have a funny limp."

Dr. Matthew Beacom has seen all kinds of farm injuries, but he's concerned about what we don't see.

"Lung disease is becoming more and more prevalent. " said Dr. Beacom.

He says farmers, inhaling dust and toxins like this on a daily basis, is leading to the same problems smokers have. So he hands out kits complete with masks, ear plugs and gloves

His advice to farmers: "If you're tired, rest. Sometimes that's all that's needed to prevent a huge tragedy and just taking the time to to just check the safety equipment," said Beacom.

Tim Dreesen says, "You always have to be on guard."

After decades of farming, safety stays a priority for the Dreesens because in the end, it's more than job.

"It's the best thing ever," Dreesen said.

It's a family business.

Dr. Beacom says we all can help farmers stay safe. As we approach fall harvest, watch out for farmers riding equipment on rural roads.
They will be out there and their equipment moves slowly - about 20 miles-per-hour. Make room for them and make sure you're obeying the speed limit.

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