Why is Farm Safety Important?
Thousands of farmers, family members, and farm workers are injured and hundreds die in farming accidents every year in the United States. Agriculture is considered the most hazardous industry to work in. A farmer is 800 percent more likely to die while working than people in other jobs. The leading cause of death is tractor rollovers. Learn more about the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA’s) Rollover Protective Structures (ROPS) Rebate Program.
Other health and safety hazards on the farm include grain bins and silos, manure pits, toxic gases, chemicals and pesticides, livestock handling, skid loaders, and others. You can prevent or minimize the danger of accidents with training or by installing and using safety equipment.
Farm Safety and Health Resources in Minnesota
Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety & Health Center (UMASH)
UMASH works to improve the safety and health of agricultural workers and families through research, education, and prevention. Visit their Resource Database for fact sheets, posters, videos, and other resources on topics like Avian Influenza, food safety, needlestick prevention, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), pesticide safety, petting zoos and fairs, safety resources for Hmong farm workers, and stockmanship.
Farm Answers is the largest source of information for farmers, with links to educational materials, videos, online courses, programs, and more. Its Farm Safety and Health section offers more than 200 factsheets, videos, and other resources.
Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC)
MAELC funds statewide and local agricultural education efforts, including farm safety programming. Projects must be connected to a local secondary or post-secondary Agricultural, Food, and Natural Resources (AFNR) program. Grant applications are due November 15 and April 15 of each year.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
The 2016 Minnesota Legislature established the Rollover Protective Structures (ROPS) Rebate Program to make tractor safety equipment affordable and simple to order. Roll bars and seat belts are 99 percent effective in preventing death and serious injury in the event of a rollover.
The program reimburses farmers and schools at least 70 percent of the cost of purchasing, shipping, and installing a rollover protection kit – a roll bar and safety belt – so an applicant’s out-of-pocket cost to make a tractor safer is no more than $500.
Minnesota Department of Health
Working in collaboration with organized labor, workers, businesses, schools, government, academia, and other stakeholders, the Center for Occupational Health and Safety focuses on the surveillance, investigation, and reduction of preventable workplace injuries, illnesses, and hazards among Minnesota’s working population.
The Center monitors work-related injuries, illnesses, and exposures to identify trends and establish priorities for research, education, and prevention efforts. The Center for Occupational Health and Safety:
- shares occupational surveillance and hazard data with stakeholders in order to promote awareness of occupational health and safety issues and concerns;
- collaborates and consults on the design, implementation, and interpretation of epidemiologic studies of occupational diseases and injuries;
- evaluates emerging occupational hazards and diseases;
- promotes occupational health and safety awareness among young workers; and
- works with other programs, agencies, institutions, and other partners to promote the health and safety of Minnesota workers.
Safer FACEs (Farm Animal Contact Exhibits) is a free online training program intended for events where the public has contact with animals. Its goal is to help owners/operators understand the potential risks of illness or injury from animals and the best practices to keep visitors healthy. The training consists of six online modules and short quizzes. It takes 2-3 hours to complete. Users can work at their own pace, and exit and return as needed. Topics include:
- overview of health risks from animals;
- facility design;
- animal care and management;
- staff training;
- visitor education and signage; and
Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry
Every year, Minnesota workers suffocate in grain bins. In 2010, Minnesota was second only to Illinois in the number of deaths and nonfatal grain entrapment incidents, according to Purdue University. Minnesota OSHA conducts compliance inspections and offers free safety and health consultations at grain-handling facilities.
Workplace Safety Consultation (WSC) provides free voluntary and confidential workplace safety and health assistance, with priority for farms and small businesses. The free services include on-site safety surveys, training, education, and outreach. Services are provided by highly qualified occupational safety and health professionals.
WSC also offers the Safety Grant Program, a dollar-for-dollar match up to $10,000 to qualifying employers (including farmers) for projects designed to reduce the risk of injury or illness to their employees.
Minnesota Poison Control System
The Minnesota Poison Control System provides 24/7 immediate medical treatment recommendations for poisoning by telephone at 1-800-222-1222. Poisoning can occur when you eat or inhale toxic substances, or by getting them on your skin or in your eyes. If pregnant women are exposed to dangerous substances, the fetus can also be affected. On farms, these substance can include (but are not limited to) pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and veterinary drugs (e.g. vaccines, antibiotics). Services are free of charge. You can also order educational materials and Poison Help magnets and stickers from their website.
Program the Poison Center’s phone number – 1-800-222-1222 – into your phone today.
Minnesota State Farm Business Management
Minnesota State’s farm business management program works with farmers throughout the state of Minnesota. Instructors can help develop protocols for safe operations on the farm (machine operation, livestock husbandry, grain bin management, etc.). Contact the Southern Minnesota Center of Agriculture or AgCentric for more information.
Progressive Agriculture Foundation
Since 1995, Progressive Agriculture Safety Days® have reached more than 1.5 million children and adults with life-saving safety information. Each year, the program trains hundreds of volunteers from the U.S., U.S. territories, and Canada to coordinate one-day, age-appropriate, hands-on, fun safety events for children. These volunteer coordinators hold between 400-425 Safety Days throughout North America reaching more than 100,000 participants and volunteers. See their website for the schedule and map of Minnesota events.
SFM Mutual Insurance
SFM maintains an extensive library of safety resources and tools available to employers free of charge.
Southern Minnesota Center of Agriculture – Ag Safety Trailer
The Safety Trailer is available for businesses, organizations, farms, and individuals to use for agricultural safety training for employees, students, or as a part of a public event. The trailer is stocked with face masks, safety glasses, ear plugs, and more. The Southern Minnesota Center of Agriculture charges businesses and farms a moderate fee for programming. The trailer is free of charge for youth safety events.
Current programs include:
- slips, trips, and falls
- grain bin safety
- agriculture chemical safety
- developing an ag safety plan for your farm
- general ag safety presentation
United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 1189
United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 1189 advocates on behalf of and with many different workers, and has focused on packinghouse worker safety, food safety, and proper training around equipment to keep all workers safe. Members come from many immigrant communities including Latino, Karen, and Somali groups.
University of Minnesota Extension
Extension Farm Safety programs provide information and training on topics like youth tractor safety, extreme weather, and on-farm food safety plans. Call the Farm Information Line for other safety information specific to small grains, dairy, horse, and small farms.
The Pesticide Safety and Environmental Education program trains private and commercial pesticide applicators in pesticide handling, safety, application, and selection. Safety topics vary from selecting the right personal protective equipment, to storing and transporting pesticides safely, and how to read and interpret pesticide labels in order to ensure safe handling and usage of the pesticide.
Xcel Energy provides emergency responder training tools, like the Responding to Utility Emergencies website. This website helps emergency responders recognize potential hazards involving electricity and natural gas, and provides guidelines to assure the safety of first responders and the public. Xcel is also part of the Pipeline Ag Safety Alliance, a partnership to prevent damage to buried pipelines on farmland through education and improved communication.
Thank you to the organizations listed above for providing information about these Minnesota-based resources. Other partners who helped create the list and promote farm safety are the Latino Economic Development Center, Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators, and Minnesota Food Association. If your organization has a resource it would like to add to this list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources listed on this website do not constitute the MDA’s endorsement of a service, program or organization. The MDA accepts no liability for the content of these resources.