Editorials

Farmer's accidental death is a reminder of occupational hazards

An Illinois corn and soybean farmer cultivates his field in preparation for spring planting. Farm accidents are the second leading cause of workplace fatalities.
An Illinois corn and soybean farmer cultivates his field in preparation for spring planting. Farm accidents are the second leading cause of workplace fatalities. AP

A high-pressure hose failed, hitting a New Athens farmer in the head a week ago. He was working on equipment, preparing for spring planting.

Burt C. “Charlie” Kreher II, 53, died from the head injury.

For every 100,000 workers in the nation, 3.6 died on the job in 2016. Farmers died at more than six times that rate.

The total was 417 farm deaths that year, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said were mostly the result of transportation incidents. The most common killer was when a tractor overturned.

The CDC estimates that about 60 percent of tractors are equipped with roll bars and seat belts. It recommends boosting that to 80 percent to significantly reduce farm deaths.

In Illinois, the median ag salary in 2017 was $32,590. Doesn't seem like much, considering the risk.

Also, consider that there are about 2 million farm jobs, another 2 million seasonal crop workers, about 900,000 farm kids with about half of them working on their parents' farms and another 266,000 youths hired to work on farms. There is a lot of potential for injury or death.

Might be worth saying a little prayer next time you are in the grocery store or at the supper table for those who feed us in general, and Charlie Kreher in particular.

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