LITTLE ROCK — Across the country, Farm Bureaus are making safety a top priority this spring through the Agricultural Safety Awareness Program (ASAP). As a part of ASAP, March 2-8 has been designated as Agricultural Safety Awareness Week.

This year’s theme, "Farm Safety: Your Only Passenger," emphasizes making farms and ranches safer for farmers, their family members and employees, with special emphasis on children.

People of all ages, but particularly children, are at risk of injuries as passengers on farm equipment. Educating adults about reducing risks to the children in their care is critical to preventing farm and ranch incidents and fatalities.

"To help in preventing injuries and deaths, all operators should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safety," said Amanda Williams, safety coordinator for Arkansas Farm Bureau. "Carrying passengers on a single rider piece of equipment such as a tractor or ATV, the operator is risking what matters most."

According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• Every day, 243 agricultural workers suffer lost-work-time injury. Five percent of these injuries result in permanent impairment. That equates to 12 workers daily who sustain injuries resulting in permanent disabilities.

• Approximately 1,823,000 full-time workers were employed in production agriculture in the U.S. in 2010. During this same year, 440 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury. Tractor overturns were the leading cause of death for these farmers and farm workers.

• Of the leading sources of fatal injuries to youth on U.S. farms, 23 percent involved machinery (including tractors), 19 percent involved motor vehicles (including ATVs) and 16 percent were due to drowning.

• The most effective way to prevent tractor-overturn deaths is the use of a Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) and the use of a seat belt. In 2006, only 59 percent of tractors used on U.S. farms were equipped with ROPS. If ROPS were placed on all tractors used on U.S. farms manufactured since the mid-1960s, the prevalence of ROPS-equipped tractors could be increased to over 80 percent.

These statistics emphasize the reason why, during Ag Safety Awareness Week and throughout the year, state Farm Bureaus are focused on making farms and ranches safer for farmers, their family members and employees. To accomplish this, Arkansas Farm Bureau has two full-time safety coordinators on staff.

"The safety coordinators at Arkansas Farm Bureau are dedicated to educating Arkansans about safety concerns," said safety coordinator Jason Kaufman. "Some of the programs offered include Farm/Tractor Safety, ATV Safety, Distracted Driving Prevention, and Drinking and Driving Prevention."

For more information, visit the "Education & Youth" section of Arkansas Farm Bureau’s website,