Charles Schwab

Farming is not just a dangerous career, it is the most dangerous one in the United States, according to an Iowa farm safety specialist.

Charles V. Schwab of the Iowa State University Extension in Ames said that when deaths per 100,000 workers are counted, farming is eight times more dangerous than all of the other industries combined, including mining and construction.

Some industries have single-event tragedies, such as an explosion, that may lead to the perception that they are more dangerous.

"In mining, multiple people die in one event. In farming, people are hurt and killed on farms all over the country," Schwab said.

"Agriculture is not as safe as many people may think," he added.

Tractors are the most dangerous piece of farm equipment, he said. Roll-over incidents are the top killer of farmers almost every year.

That involves tractors that have no cages, rollbars or protective coverings for the driver, but most newer tractors have the Roll-Over Protection System, or ROPS.

Vehicles such as a tractor, or the four-wheelers used by many farmers, have higher centers of gravity, and that is why they present rollover issues.

"Speed, sharp turns, elevation all impact the stability of the vehicle, Schwab said.

Safety is a decision made every day, he said.

"You make the same safe choice day after day after day, and there's one day you do the same thing and there's some new condition and you have an injury," he added. 

— Deirdre Cox Baker


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