Partnering with Rural and Farm Communities to Promote Safety & Health
The Agricultural Safety & Health Program is led by John Shutske, Extension Specialist and Professor in Biological Systems Engineering at UW-Madison. This website highlights key Extension activities and recent research on farm injury, occupational health, stress, and human factors. Much of the work in this area has focused in recent months on the safety, risk, and societal issues around new technologies and farm automation.
You are also encouraged to check out more safety and health resources in the Division of Extension’s Farm Management topic hub. There you will find additional articles and information about legacy programs such as Tractor and Machinery Safety certification.
Hot Off the Press - Timely Information
From 2023 Wednesday Night at the Lab - Looks at new technologies and current issues in agriculture, the implications for safety, and what stands in the way of future agricultural innovation including issues of real and perceived risk.
Proper lighting and marking on farm equipment could save numerous lives on Wisconsin highways. Read more about critical safety recommendations and legal requirements.
Recent Farm Safety and Health Articles & Stories
The article is the latest from our research funded by USDA-NIFA on safety and risk assessment for highly automated and autonomous agricultural machinery. The article provides a framing for risk-related issues that we must systematically consider in the move toward agricultural automation including technologies such as autonomous machine and robots. We must stay ahead of innovation and technology change so that years or decades from now we are not trying futilely to fix problems that should have been considered thoroughly today.
The 2019-20 WI Farm Fatalities Reports show fatality numbers remain high, and incidents on public roadways continue to be deadly. In 2019, roadway deaths accounted for 15% of farm-related fatalities (six out of 40) while in 2020 they accounted for 18% (five out of 28). This article links to the investigative reports and provides recommendations for changes in policy, priorities and re-thinking some of the conditions and practices in Wisconsin. Among these are to reexamine the risk associated with state mandates to certify 12 and 13 year old's on complex farm machines (Wisconsin is the only state doing this) and bridging the gaps in slow moving farm vehicle highway regulation which have not kept pace with best-practice safety standards or federal regulations.
A podcast series has been developed focusing on building positive emotions for farmers, farm families and agricultural professionals highlighted through the voices of those working, living and experiencing the joys and challenges of agriculture. This is part of the WeCOPE for Farmers project funded through a generous grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through a partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). It is adapted from the original WeCOPE curriculum, a ROTA grant funded program through the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Current state requirements for farm tractor and machinery (IoH) marking and lighting are simply not enough. Contrary to current nationally-recognized ASABE engineering safety standards, WI does not require turn indicators and other important features. Data on WI farm work-related deaths include a number of highway fatalities. Federal regulations cover post mid-2017 machines, but Wisconsin's baseline requirements for most pre-2017 are quite different.
In 2020, there were 481 fatal farm injuries and over 110,000 injuries in the U.S. The “rate” of fatal injuries was 20.5 per 100,000 workers. Of the more than 80 million U.S. annual passengers who flew on commercial airlines each year in recent years, nobody has died because of an "accident." If airplane passengers died at the same rate as farmers and hired workers, we would see over 16,000 fatalities a year. Can you imagine the outcry? In agriculture, we can and should do better.
This article, originally written for our FarmWell Wisconsin project focuses on the importance of periodically being very deliberate about examining all of your strengths and assets as a professional as an important way to put things into perspective and create a greater sense of mental well-being. What we are good at and how we can contribute to the broader world is often a very important way we express ourselves and connect with others. Every situation is unique; knowing what strengths you bring to your life and farm can help you plan for a positive future. This content is adapted from core content of the WeCOPE program. WeCOPE program is supported by a grant through the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the farm/agricultural adaptation is sponsored by a generous grant through the Department of Agriculture through a special partnership with the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
ASH Program Projects, Activities, and Partner Organizations
FarmWell Wisconsin builds connections in rural communities. Includes partnership creation to connect existing community resources, and efforts to engage health providers on farm stress, health, and mental health of farmers, farmworkers, and their families.
The WI Certification Program meets US Department of Labor requirements for employment of youth on farms ages 14-15. Learn about the latest program offerings the Extension and local partners including vo-ag programs and technical colleges.
Extension resource center for farmers, families, and businesses on resilience, stress, and financial and other business planning tools and education to create a road-map for a successful and sustainable farm financial future.
AgrAbility of Wisconsin promotes success in agriculture for farmers and their families living with a farm injury, disability, or limitation. AgrAbility of Wisconsin is a partnership between the UW-Madison and Easter Seals Wisconsin.
Resource and information collection from the Farm Management topic hub of UW-Madison’s Division of Extension. This includes topics on employee safety, health, and developing a safety culture.
NFMS is in Marshfield, Wisconsin and has been a partner of this program since 1991. The Marshfield Clinic Research Institute is also the host of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, another key partner.