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Lessons in farm safety

By Staff | Aug 6, 2009

I had about 3,000 bushels of corn to haul to the ethanol plant to finish a contract. The decision had been made to use a tractor and large wagon we have since it is a short haul and I am more comfortable with the tractor and wagon than the semi. The wagon holds about what a tandem axle straight truck would hold which meant a few more trips but the short haul of a half-mile made it easy.

To load the wagon, I needed to see how it was filling by standing on the tractor hood just in front of the cab. I have done this many times in the past but in climbing up and in getting myself down from my perch on the tractor hood, I remembered that I was probably 10 years and 20 or 30 pounds ago.

It was during the second heave-ho to get myself on the tractor hood that I realized what a risk I was taking. If I slipped and fell to the ground, I could do some serious damage to myself. That made me all the more careful because I did not want to spend the fall on crutches, any time in a hospital, or even have to endure painful bruises if I was lucky enough to have minimal injuries.

They say God watches over fools and little children, and I knew which one I was. I finished the contract with no mishaps but not before lecturing myself on the importance of safety on the farm.

I do not like it when anyone preaches to me on a subject I already believe in. Therefore, I will keep my preaching here to a minimum because chances are, all of us believe in safety first when doing our jobs.

Harvest is on the way and soon combines will be sitting outside being prepared for that wonderful first day of harvest and all the days after that. Those are the days when the pace picks up and we get hurried, sometimes taking a shortcut to save a few seconds.

My point to all of us is to be careful of those shortcuts. Most of the time, we probably get away with them but all it takes is once and those few seconds we were trying to save creates days, weeks, months, or possibly a lifetime of regret.

My obvious example is the stop on the combine head cylinder to keep it from falling when we are underneath the head. Sure, we are only going under the head for a few seconds. Yeah, it is a bother to remember to put the stop back in the raised position once we are finished. I know it is maddening to get back in the cab and when the head does not go down, you remember the stop is still in place, which means another trip down the ladder to raise it and then back up the ladder to get going.

Now the odds are you will be able to clean the rock trap, make your adjustments or repairs with the head up and not use the safety stop, but what if you are wrong? You will probably never know what happened because it will happen so fast as you are crushed by the head. If you are lucky, you will be pinned down by the combine head and if you can reach your cell phone, you can call for help.

That does not sound like lucky but consider the alternative. Do you want a family member or your help coming out to see why the combine is not moving only to find you crushed under the collapsed head? That is why some short cuts are not worth it.

We are only a slip or fall or a poor decision, in an attempt to save a few seconds, away from being badly hurt, disabled, or even getting ourselves killed. In this season of harvest plus all the rest of the year, please be careful.

I admire my friends on the local rescue squad. I am also thankful for them and I am not a member of the rescue squad because it would be too difficult for me to see my neighbors in pain or injured or have to remove them from an accident. I do not want to meet my rescue squad friends at the scene of my accident and that is another reason to be careful.

Always, safety first. I have made my point. End of lesson.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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