April’s Ag Advice

April's Ag Advice by April Borders Safety on the farm is a very important issue that should be a concern for everyone, especially this time of year. It is important that we consider farm safety not only for ourselves but also for others too, especially for our children.

It is difficult to supervise children on the farm all the time, especially when parents are employed off the farm or during this busy time of year as we head into harvest season.

According to the National Safety Council's Injury Facts, there were 710 farm-related fatalities and 110,000 disabling injuries in 2003. Agriculture had the second highest fatality rate of all industries following only mining.

According to the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, an estimated 104 children younger than 20 years of age die of agricultural injuries on U.S. farms and ranches annually and approximately 22,648 injuries occur. Farm machinery (including tractors) is the leading source of fatality.

Many farm-related tragedies involving children can be prevented. One important way is for parents to practice safe farming themselves. Children mimic their parents. That's why parents need to be good role models. As a family, sit down and discuss safety issues, as well as age-appropriate farm chores.

Many parents work off the farm these days and they need their kids to help out with chores to help ease the financial pressures. Sometimes parents also think that assigning chores to children help convey a strong work ethic and other positive social behavior.

Parents need to talk to each other and to think about age-appropriate tasks for their children. Parents need to remember that while their kids can be mature most of the time, they can quickly revert back to child-like behavior. We tend to overestimate our children's ability to handle equipment.

Tractors routinely account for over 50 percent of farm-related deaths. Operating a tractor requires the same physical and cognitive skills as operating an automobile. Most children are not really ready for this until they are 16 years old.

Another big mistake that can turn very deadly is allowing extra riders on tractors even if the tractor has a cab. From a safety perspective, there is no justification for having extra riders.

There are a number of documented cases where extra riders have been thrown from a tractor with a cab when a door or window flew open. Adults need to take a firm stance and make sure that children understand that tractors are meant for work, not for play.

Sometimes there are hidden hazards on the farm and we need to identify these hazardous situations and correct them. There are many risks in working or playing around PTO (power takeoff) equipment. The power of a PTO can be frightening especially if you have ever seen it grab something and pull it in.

PTOs run at very rapid speeds in order to run other pieces of equipment. For example, 1000 rpms means that the PTO is rotating at 1,000 times per minute or 16 times per second. If a six-foot rope is tossed over a spinning PTO, it will wrap around the shaft in less than a second. PTOs operate with alarming speed and they can grasp clothes and cause severe injury or death.

By following some simple safety precautions you can prevent entanglement.

* Wear tight-fitting clothing. No loose strings on sweatshirts, baggy sleeves, frayed blue jeans or torn coveralls. Tuck in shirts and button sleeves.

* Keep hair pulled back and close to the head or tucked inside a cap.

* Replace frayed work gloves.

* Check to make sure all PTO shields and guards are in place and in good condition. Don't rely solely on the PTO shields for protection. Stay out of the danger zone.

* Always make sure the PTO and tractor are shut off and remove the keys before exiting while using non-stationary equipment (e.g., baler or mower)

* If using stationary equipment (e.g., auger), keep a safe distance from the PTO. Do not reach over the back of the tractor to adjust the PTO or throttle.

Continued on page 14

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