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In Perspective: Harvest Safety

By Cynthia Bruno |

Published 10/25 2013 12:02PM

Updated 10/25 2013 01:54PM

CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- Harvest season is typically the time when the most farming accidents happen. People are working day and night, rushing to get their crops out. Ag safety specialists worry it will mean more injuries.

Already, Illinois averages more than 5,000 lost-time injuries each year. WCIA-3's Cynthia Bruno puts the dangers of harvest In Perspective by explaining why this year could be even worse.

Equipment is rolling in full-force as farmers work to beat Mother Nature's winter deadline.

"Much of the crops are maturing later than normal, so they're getting kind of pushed further into the season than they normally would like to harvest. And they're concerned about getting the crop out and that the moisture content isn't too high and that sort of thing, and that's all important."

Bob Aherin is an agricultural safety expert at the University of Illinois. He's worried the rush will cause more accidents.

"When we look at accidents when they occur, they tend to occur late in the day or mid-day when people have been working long, continuous hours and they haven't gotten much rest. And that's when they get tired and get in a hurry, and all those kinds of things, and when you're doing all those things, you're increasing the potential that something will go wrong and you'll have a serious injury."

One big problem is accidents on the road.

"We average about 175 - 200 collisions a year involving farm equipment on public roadways. Some years it's been as high as 400."

We've already seen accidents this week. Two involving grain trucks happened Monday outside Pesotum. Another happened Tuesday on Route 49 when a semi hit a tractor.

Aherin also says, this time of year, they see a lot of accidents because kids are riding in farm equipment, people are using a lot of anhydrous ammonia, which can explode, and farmers get electrocuted because they hit power lines with their equipment. All of this danger adds up.

"These accidents cost, on average, when there's no death, about $35,000. And, if someone is killed, well over a million dollars from the productivity loss, legal costs and all the other things that go into accidents today."

He reminds everyone losing a couple acres isn't worth losing a life. As far as injuries and deaths this year, Aherin doesn't have a good set of statistics yet to see how it stacks up. He says it can take weeks or months before they find out about accidents.

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