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Numbers always tell a story. For agriculture, the story line contains some harsh statistics:

•In 2007, 715 deaths and 80,000 disabling injuries were attributed to agriculture.

•The 2006 death rate for farmers and farm employees was 28 in 100,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

•The 2006 injury rate for farmers and farm employees was six in 100.

As agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, the National Safety Council annually shines a spotlight on farming and ranching during National Farm Safety and Health Week, which is the week of September 21-27. This year´s theme is "Farm Safely—Protect YOUr Investment."

Agriculture´s death rate ranks first among all occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Mining ranks second with 27 work deaths per 100,000 employees and construction is third with 10 deaths per 100,000 workers.

"The Farm Safety Week theme emphasizes the value of safety and wellness to all agricultural producers," said John Slocombe, Extension farm safety specialist at Kansas State University. "We want to remind farmers of the need to be safe and stress the importance of protecting hearing, lung function, vision, skin, and the musculo-skeletal system."

Workplace injuries are expensive and inconvenient. For farmers it is estimated that four work days are lost for every injury. Meanwhile, the daily chores of feeding and caring for livestock, and planting, tending and harvesting crops continue.

Slocombe noted that up to 60 percent of farm injuries occur when working with livestock. Most other injuries happen during crop production with machinery incidents accounting for most injuries.

Most farmer deaths involve tractors. The overwhelming majority of injuries occur among workers aged 45 and older. The average age of U.S. farmers is 56.

According to the National Institute for Farm Safety, there is a bright spot—the number of agricultural deaths and injuries has fallen gradually during the last four years. That decline is attributed to safer equipment and increased safety awareness, Slocombe said.

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