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Cortland/Ithaca

Farm worker's death highlights safety concerns

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Farm worker's death highlights safety concerns
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A tragic accident brings the issue of farm safety into the limelight after a man was killed while working at a farm on Bostwick Road in Ithaca Tuesday. As Tamara Lindstrom tells us, it's a reminder that farming can be a dangerous occupation.

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- From an outsider's perspective, spending days in the open air and rolling fields is the quintessential good life.

"We have this idyllic concept of farms. But in reality, it's highly mechanized. So therefore, there are lots of dangers," said Monika Roth, Agricultural Program Leader at Cornell Cooperative Extension.

A harsh fact that was underscored Tuesday when a 30-year-old Tompkins County man suffered a tragic accident.

"A person was operating a piece of farm equipment and became entangled in it. And as a result of his injuries, he died," said Ithaca Fire Chief Tom Parsons.

"In harvesting equipment, there's moving parts. Unhooking a tractor, there's moving parts. And in this case, it was an auger taking feed to be transported to bins to be able to feed the animals. The augers are moving very fast and if you have a loose piece of clothing, it gets pulled very quickly," Roth said.

Machinery accidents like this one, along with equipment rollovers and other injuries, has led the National Safety Council to rank agriculture as the most hazardous industry in the nation. But workers are seeing improvement.

"A lot of it's improving at the manufacture level," Roth said. "So the equipment that's being sold has already got tons of safety features."

Still, officials urge farmers to be vigilant about taking precautions.

"Make sure the equipment is maintained. Make sure they're following the manufacturers’ recommendations for operating the equipment safety," Parsons said.

Important steps that could prevent a tragedy.

The investigation into Tuesday's accident is ongoing.

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