LINCOLN, Neb. — More women than ever are actively engaged in farming operations across the United States.
In celebration of National Farm Safety and Health Week on Sept. 15-21, several organizations — such as the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the AgriSafe Network — are using the week to raise awareness of their expanding training resources focused on reducing the risk of injury and illness in women working in agriculture.
While noting that women have always played a role in working on the farm, Knesha Rose-Davison, health communications director for the AgriSafe Network, said the role of women in farming is growing. The 2017 U.S. Census estimates that 36% of all producers are female and 56% of all farms have at least one female decision maker.
“The numbers went from about 970,000 women actively working in farming operations in 2012 to around 1.2 million in 2017,” Rose-Davison said. “With this 27% spike in the numbers, we have a concern about the unique safety issues women face when they’re working on the farm.”
In 2017, AgriSafe Network began collaborating with CS-CASH to collect personal accounts of injury from women working in farm situations. Analyzing the data allowed them to identify specific types of injuries and high-risk activities that women are typically exposed to on the farm.
“Ergonomic issues are especially prominent for women,” Rose-Davison said. “Men experience ergonomic injuries, too. But due to their size and physical strength, women handling livestock or working at activities involving repetitive movements are prone to ergonomic injuries.”
Ergonomics is a science that helps improve products, processes and tools to help people work and live better and to prevent injury.
Injuries and strained muscles in the neck, shoulders and back are common in women. Ergonomic injuries can occur more readily as women age and bone density, chronic diseases, natural decline in strength and other physical changes occur.
Details on various training opportunities are available at the https://learning.agrisafe.org website and going to the “Training Catalog” link.