NDSC Developing Agriculture Safety Training Course

Nearly one quarter of North Dakota’s population is employed in the agriculture sector and about 90 percent of the state’s land is used for farming and ranching. Of the 35 occupational deaths that occurred in North Dakota in 2018, 12 were in the agriculture industry. These workers, both young and old, experienced and inexperienced, need access to training that will help them understand the risks they face and the steps they can take to prevent tragedies in their communities and among their families.

The North Dakota Safety Council (NDSC) has been awarded an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Susan Harwood Curriculum Development Grant of $69,926, to develop an agricultural safety course targeted to employers who perform agricultural operations, with a focus on youth employees, those new to farming and other small businesses in the agricultural industry.

“Training workers on industry hazards and effective safety practices can help ensure every worker goes home safe and healthy each day,” said Scott Overson, Area Director for OSHA’s Bismarck Area Office. “Everyone has a role to play in workplace safety. Safe workplaces are important for workers and employers, but impact families and communities as well.”

“Common hazards faced in the agriculture industry include confined space (bin) entry, control of hazardous energy, and atmospheric hazards from decaying grain, molds, and toxic fumigants,” Overson added.

The NDSC is working on the curriculum development which will include these modules: Vehicle and Equipment Operations, Agricultural Equipment Safety, Livestock Safety, Grain Storage Safety, Hearing and Respiratory Protection, Youth Employment Laws and Regulations, and Chemical Safety. All the modules may be taught together in one course over 12 hours or customized into separate modules, based upon need.

The NDSC held a stakeholder meeting in February to gain feedback and finesse the training outline. The final pilot program will be held July 7-8 in Bismarck, with representatives from OSHA, Workforce Safety and Insurance, the agriculture industry and youth participating. Once the course is developed and approved, the NDSC will launch the course across North Dakota by working with local FFA Chapters, rural community leaders and ag-related businesses.

The North Dakota Safety Council at the time of initial publication of this document (October 1, 2020), is funded by a grant of $69,926 federal funds, which constitutes 98 percent of the program budget. Two percent, or $1,122 of the program budget, is financed through non-governmental sources.

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