Following a challenging growing season, harvest has been more stressful than usual across much of the Midwest this year. More farm accidents occur during harvest than at any other time of the year. I know many of you have heard radio messages or seen stories in print publications promoting farm safety during this, National Farm Safety and Health Week.
For the past several years I have tagged along with members of the Jacksonville office of Farm Credit Services of Illinois as they served complimentary “Meals in the Field” to farm families in the area during National Farm Safety & Health Week. Over the course of the week, more than one-hundred Illinois farm families will be served a hot lunch and a farm safety message
As a young farm broadcaster covering local ag events in the mid-80′s, it was impossible not to notice that so many of the hands I was shaking were missing thumbs and fingers, and in some cases, entire arms. Gone are the corn pickers that mangled so many of those limbs, but we still have harvest equipment, PTO shafts, agri-chemicals, and power tools. I have many friends who have been injured in farm accidents, and sadly, I have lost friends to farm accidents.
A neighbor was doing some “brush-hogging” and ran over some tangled electric fence wire. He felt it hit him in the back, but thought nothing of it until he felt the warm blood soaking through his shirt. He went home where his daughter cleaned the wound. When his wife came home from work he told her that he had a metallic taste in his mouth. At 10:30 that night, the emergency room doctors told him he had a piece of wire an inch and a half long piercing his lung.
My assistant’s grandfather was grinding feed for turkeys when he somehow got pulled into the PTO and was killed. Another acquaintance came between a cow and her new calf and was thrown against a gate, ending up with several bruises and a couple of broken ribs.
A friend of mine was “in a hurry” to clean sow stalls a few years ago. Snow was blowing and drifting around the barn where she was using a power washer with a gas motor to do her work. The barn was drafty enough, she thought. She could see the feed sack stuffed into the window above her moving with the winter wind, and snow blowing through the space between window and paper. It was cold in that barn with a winter wind blowing in on her as she washed those crates. Certainly it would be alright to close the barn door for just a few minutes. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
When my friend began to feel sick, thank God she walked to the door instead of to the pit to vomit. She barely made it to the door before she passed out, hitting the side of her head on a concrete block. It was that same winter wind and snow that she was trying to get away from that was blowing in her face when she came to.
Be aware. You know what you need to do to make your farm a safer place – whether it’s tearing down old fence so you don’t catch it in the chopper, scraping the mud and ice from the tractor platform, or simply being aware and staying calm when working with cattle. It all adds up.