Thankfully, progress is being made. Technological improvements alone are bringing a higher level of safety to farm work.

For example, tractor rollovers have been a major cause of injury or death, occurring mainly when equipment is operated on sloping ground or too close to a ditch. But rollover protection systems (ROPS) are now standard on new tractors.

The investment in adding rollover protection and seatbelts to older tractors will pay great dividends if these tractors are involved in a rollover.

Safety on the farm is like anything else; it improves when you work at it. If the farm operator sets and enforces certain rules, the margin of safety will increase.

Take tractor safety, for example. Proper maintenance of equipment and enforcement of rules such as “No seat, no rider” are smart investments of time and money.

Awareness works. For example, Farm Bureau has put the spotlight on children and teenagers and the work they do on farms. The organization has emphasized that while farm kids are frequently vital to the success of a farm, many, but not all farm jobs are appropriate. Partly as a result of greater awareness, injury rates among youth on the farm were cut in half from 1998 to 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

While it’s hard to quantify the total impact of accidental injury or death, it’s easy to see that any farm is better off without them. Awareness of hazards and a commitment to safety for everyone on the farm is an investment that will pay off many times over.

Richard L. Lobb is a guest contributor to Farm Bureau’s Focus on Agriculturecolumn series this week. He is a long-time agricultural communicator.