May 31, 2011

Maryland Farmer Work Safety : Labor Dept. Says Farming Jobs Among Most Dangerous, Prone to Accidents

When people think of hazardous occupations, a certain few come to mind, such as fire fighters and police officers. However anyone in Maryland who does farming and agricultural work already knows what a government report revealed to be true: Farming work is hazardous and can cause injury and death. What might surprise some is national statistics for fatal farming accidents reveal that farming work is more dangerous than firefighting or police work combined.

U.S. Department of Labor data show that the national rate of fatal occupational injuries for farmers and ranchers in 2009 was 38.5 per 100,000 full-time workers -- as compared to 13.1 for police officers and 4.4 for firefighters. City dwellers and other people who don't live near working farms may not realize how dangerous farming work can be. Labor Department economist Jim Rice told Market Watch that "…you probably hear less about people dying when tractors roll over on them. For those who do work on farms, it's still a dangerous occupation."

Maryland farmers, ranchers, and others in the agriculture industry work with heavy equipment and vehicles. Like construction workers, these hard-working Maryland farmers put in long hours doing heavy labor--particularly now that the warm weather has arrived. If you live and drive in Maryland, you may already have noticed farm vehicles on the rural roadways --which pose traffic accident risks for both the farmers and other motorists.

As Maryland farm equipment accident attorneys, we are well aware of the risks of injury and fatality that come with farming work. We also know that serious traffic accidents can happen when hurried Md. motorists come upon a tractor or other piece of agricultural equipment in the road, or livestock in the road. See links below to more Md. accident injury attorney articles about sharing Maryland's back roads with tractors and other farming vehicles.

Risky Business: Jobs You Never Knew Were So Dangerous
Market Watch via Yahoo! Finance Feb. 14, 2011

Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:

Car Accidents with Farm Equipment on Public Roads in Maryland: When Lifestyles and Vehicles Collide

Maryland Car Accidents with Livestock and Other Animals in the Road

Maryland Farm Vehicle and Auto Accident Prevention: Do State Regulations Go Far Enough?

December 14, 2010

Maryland Farm Vehicle and Auto Accident Prevention: Do State Regulations Go Far Enough?

A national study on the safety hazards of farm equipment driving on public roads reveals what experienced Baltimore County, Maryland injury attorneys know very well:

Urban drivers sharing narrow, winding back roads with slow-moving tractors, combines, and other agricultural vehicles can be a dangerous, deadly combination.

It's a serious driving safety problem in rural Maryland counties (such as Carroll County and Harford County) and other farming communities across the U.S. More and more urban commuters are moving to the country -- bringing more cars, more traffic, and more hurried driving with them. At the same time, state laws written in the early 20th century have not kept pace with the capabilities of modern farm equipment, passenger cars, nor changes in U.S. driving habits.

A report featured in the National Agricultural Safety Database (NASD) documents the problems associated with farm equipment and motor vehicle accidents on public roads and highways, which include the following:

  • State vehicle codes regarding the lighting and marking of agricultural equipment on the roadways may vary from state to state (e.g., Maryland requires 2 headlights on tractors and self-propelled agricultural vehicles, where Delaware and Ohio only require 1).

  • Tractors used to chug along at 25 mph or slower; newer tractors can reach speeds of up to 45 mph.

  • States are inconsistent in how they handle young operators of agricultural equipment on public roads.

  • State regulations do not always embrace the national Uniform Vehicle Code guidelines related to farm equipment lighting, marking, and operation on roadways and highways.

The study authors recommend additional research into the complex problem of car accidents involving farm vehicles. In addition, they suggest ways to modernize related farm equipment roadway operation regulations and policies, as well as beef up law enforcement and driver safety education and awareness programs -- to make our nation's back roads safer for both agricultural vehicles and automobile drivers. (Related issue in the U.S. and here in Maryland: auto accidents with farm livestock in the roadways.)

Source:

Agricultural Equipment on Public Roads
Committee on Agricultural Safety and Health Research and Extension. USDA-CSREES, Washington, DC, 2009

Section 3.0: Federal and State Regulations

Section 6.0: Suggestions for the Future

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Blog Articles:

Car Accidents with Farm Equipment on Public Roads in Maryland

Maryland Car Accidents with Livestock and Other Animals in the Road

December 6, 2010

Car Accidents with Farm Equipment on Public Roads in Maryland: When Lifestyles and Vehicles Collide

Fifty years ago, Farmer John owned the Maryland farm land that he plowed and tilled, planted and harvested. He worked from sun up to sun down within the confines of his own property. Therefore, the Maryland farmer of yesteryear had no reason to take his farm vehicles out onto the public roadways.

That's all changed now -- creating challenges for both farmers and motorists to avoid serious car accidents with farm equipment on rural Md. roadways.

The dynamic of farming has changed as suburbia has spread into rural Maryland -- into small towns in Carroll County and Howard County, Md.; Harford, Cecil, and Kent County, Md., among others. Homeowners buy up what once were huge farms and then subdivide their property, leasing out parcels of land to working Maryland farmers. These farmers must then drive their tractors, combines, and other agricultural vehicles to get from one parcel of land to the next. That's when accidents with motor vehicles can happen.

When Cars, Farm Machinery, and Livestock Meet on Maryland Roadways
Auto accidents with farm machinery in Maryland happen for many of the same reasons that car and livestock accidents occur. People working in Baltimore City are hurrying to and from work. They're busy and on tight schedules. They're not prepared to encounter a multi-ton piece of machinery (or a cow or bison, for that matter) as they round the bend in the road.

Farmers work by a different set of rules. They're up before sunrise and nothing they do is meant to be done fast -- including driving their farm equipment on the roads in Md. That was perfectly fine twenty years ago when those backwater byways were truly "the roads less traveled." But now we have double the volume of cars on Maryland back roads -- which are narrow, hilly, pocked with ditches, lined by fences and trees, and with no street lights. AND punctuated with farm equipment. Maryland drivers in a hurry to get somewhere may try to pass or get around these enormous vehicles. That's when serious accidents can happen.

Maryland farm equipment accident lawyers see a lot of these kinds of rural car accidents -- where motorists unaccustomed to driving around country roads and harvesting machinery are involved in serious road accidents. At the same time, farmers driving agricultural equipment must abide by the rules of the road in Maryland. This is why we recommend you contact an experienced Baltimore County, Md. car accident injury attorney when this type of road accident with farm vehicles and machines occurs. These cases can be complicated in both the eyes of the law and the insurance companies.

Related Web Resource

USDA: Agricultural Equipment on Public Roads (white paper -- PDF)