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Farm Safety Week

By Staff | Sep 17, 2010

Iowa Farm Safety and Health week will be observed Sunday through Sept. 25 in conjunction with the National Farm Safety and Health week.

This year’s theme “ATVs: Work Smart. Ride Safe” not only is putting an emphasis on all-terrain vehicle safety, but also gives national, state and other organizations interested in agricultural safety. It’s a chance to help remind farmers and those in rural areas to make better decisions in all areas of agriculture.

Dr. Charles Schwab, ISU Extension safety specialist, said this is the 67th year a week during September is proclaimed Farm Safety and Health Week.

According to the National Safety Council, the tradition of using a week in September to reinforce agricultural safety messages began with President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the first proclamation for farm safety in 1944 because the high injury rate in agriculture impacted the war effort.

Agriculture is ranked as the second most dangerous occupation in the world, next only to mining.

“That is a clear message we need to be doing something,” said Schwab.

And something is definitely being done. According to Schwab, Iowa farm fatalities have significantly decreased in the 20 years he has been with ISU Extension.

“There used to be 80 to 90 deaths each year on U.S. farms, now that number is closer to 30,” he said.

He believes education has been one reason for the decline in farm injuries and fatalities.

Schwab said for this particular time of year, people need to be on the lookout for slow-moving vehicles.

“Realize there are slow-moving vehicles and how they make their turns to avoid collisions,” he said.

When it comes time for regular maintenance and repairs, taking the time to stop and think before acting could save one’s life, he said.

Schwab reminds operators to be cautious of power takeoffs, moving parts in combines and augers and suggests when working on combines to remember “locking and blocking” the hydraulics to help avoid the possibility of the implement falling and crushing the operator.

This fall’s crop is appearing to be drier than the last few previous years, so Schwab said to be aware of fires, as well.

While working long hours, Schwab suggests not only taking breaks to help with fatigue, but to check in with someone every hour especially when working alone.

“It’s better to be found within an hour of being injured rather than several,” he said. “Treatment within the first hour of injury will raise the percentage of your chances of recovery.”

With devices such as cell phones and radios they make those the hourly check-ins an easy thing to do.

There are other issues that can affect an operator’s normal thinking process which could also lead to a safety issue.

“Many things can override a person’s normal thinking process that when they happen decision making skills are short circuited,” said Schwab. “Don’t let external stresses override that decision process.”

PTO injuries can especially be avoided by just taking that extra time to walk around the tractor, he said.

“With PTOs, stop and think, ‘do I step over or walk around,’ that time walking around the tractor, those extra three or four seconds isn’t all that significant when it comes to saving your life,” said Schwab.

Whether you are a veteran operator on your farm, have experienced help or non-experienced help, Schwab said it is vital to take the time and examine possible problem areas of the farm and make notice of them.

Power lines, for example should be recognized when moving augers from bin to bin.

Other ways to prevent serious injury or death this fall include: making smart decisions while operating ATVs; using and maintaining slow moving vehicle emblem correctly; retrofitting tractors with rollover protective structures; avoiding flowing grain suffocation hazards while unloading bins and wagons and keep a watchful eye against bridged grain conditions.

“A safe harvest can only be done when following the proper safety measures,” said Schwab. “In all seriousness, there’s no reason you can’t pause and think.”

Contact Kriss Nelson at jknelsn@frontiernet.net.

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