Workers aren't often killed in Chautauqua County, a byproduct of decades of workplace safety advances.
An exception is farmers, an occupation that accounts for the two latest additions to the Worker's Memorial in Erlandson Overview Park in Frewsburg and which ranks among the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics' leaders in occupational fatalities.
It appears at least one of Chautauqua County's two farm-related fatalities in 2013 could have been prevented. In May 2013, a West Ellicott man was killed when the tractor he was using went off the road and rolled down a ravine. The tractor then rolled over the operator, killing him.
Such incidents can be avoided for less than $800 if those using large tractors install a "rollover protection structure" and a seatbelt. The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health has a reimbursement program that will pay about 70 percent of the cost to retrofit a tractor with safety equipment. For more information, visit www.nycamhoutreach.com/ropsr4u/ny/ or call 1-877-767-7748. Here's the best part - the National Ag Safety Database shows the use of such a structure and a seat belt would prevent all but 1 percent of deaths or serious injuries when a tractor rolls over.
Most new tractors come with such equipment, but many farmers use older equipment because the older equipment still works perfectly well. This is one workplace safety issue we don't need new laws or inspections to fix. Education, training and a simple retrofit - with money available to help with the cost - is all it takes.
Farmers should consider installing such devices.