By Sara Bredesen. From The Country Today. Originally posted: September 15, 2014. Original Article.


The accidental death of a 9-year-old Taylor County boy on his family’s farm Sept. 9 adds weight to the objective of National Farm Safety Week, Sept. 21-27.

The 2014 theme is “Safety Counts: Protecting What Matters.”

According to a report in the Star News, Medford, emergency personnel responded to a 911 call at the home of Beth and Patrick Phillips in the town of Goodrich and applied aggressive lifesaving efforts. The report said the boy later died of injuries sustained while playing and ultimately falling from a rope swing in the haymow.

Scott Heiberger, spokesman for the U.S. Agricultural Centers and the National Farm Medicine Center in Marshfield, said the incident is a sad reminder that although farm injuries to children have been trending downward over the past decade, one area that is creeping up slightly is children 10 and under.

“At first glance, you think of injuries on farms and you might think of kids working, but in fact, more than half the injuries occurred to children who are not working.”

Heiberger said farms are exciting places to grow up with a lot of things to explore, and it might be hard to look at them critically.

“In general, we encourage parents to look at their farm as a work site and ask themselves, should a child be in a work site,” he said.

Farm Safety Week and its theme underscore the importance of everyone working together to build a safer and healthier agricultural workplace, Heiberger said. The centers are a good resource for safety information, beginning with more than 40 educational videos available on their YouTube channel,

“These Ag Center resources can be especially relevant during harvest season as farmers are putting in long hours under the stress of weather delays, equipment breakdowns and high operating costs,” Heiberger said.

Wisconsin has reported an average of about 25 farm fatalities a year for all ages over about the last 15 years, Heiberger said, although he has not noticed an uptick coming into this year’s harvest.

“Actually, after a summer of child injuries and other injuries, there seems to be a tiny, little lull here, but you figure the storm is on the horizon,” he said. “Hopefully, everybody can make good decisions and prioritize safety into their decisions as best they can.”

U.S. Ag Centers ready for farm safety week

The 10 U.S. Agricultural Centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are urging everyone involved in agriculture to recognize National Farm Safety and Health Week Sept. 21-27 and promote awareness of safety solutions year-round.

The 2014 safety week theme is, “Safety Counts: Protecting What Matters.” The U.S. Agricultural Centers address that theme with their special regional and collective expertise.

NIOSH, within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, funds nine regional Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education, and Prevention and one national center to address children’s farm safety. The centers are distributed throughout the nation to be responsive to the agricultural safety and health issues unique to particular areas.

Links to individual centers can be found at

The Ag Centers were established by Congress in 1990 in response to evidence that agricultural workers were suffering substantially higher rates of occupational injury and illness than other U.S. workers.

These centers, part of the NIOSH Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing program, represent the only substantive federal effort to meet the obligation to ensure safe working conditions for workers in one of our nation’s largest and most vital production sectors. Nearly 80 percent of agriculture, forestry and fishing operators employ fewer than 10 workers, and most rely on family members and/or immigrant, part-time, contract and seasonal labor. Thus, many of these workers are excluded from labor protections, including many enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

For more information about National Farm Safety and Health Week, and safety resources, visit the website of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety at