|Farm Safety Week aims to reduce farm-related injuries and deaths|
|Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:00 AM|
BY JIM HOORMAN
Both soybeans and corn are drying down and maturing, so the harvest season is quickly approaching. Motorist and farmers need be cautious. Drivers should aware that they will be sharing rural roads with tractors, combines, grain carts and other farm machinery
Almost all of the roads in the area pass through farm country and may have farm equipment traveling on them. Drivers need to be prepared for these slow moving vehicles and to patiently remind themselves agriculture is a major industry that adds to economic health and well-being of our community. Automobile drivers need to know that farm equipment moves slowly and they take up a lot of room on the road. Farmers need to look out for drivers who may be unaware of their activities and take time to share the road with their fellow drivers.
Farmers also need to think about safety and be reminded about its importance. Last week, Sept. 15–21, was National Farm Safety Week. The goal of farm safety week is to help protect farm families and workers from farm-related injuries and deaths. Many farmers like their independence and the opportunity to work with the land but using tractors and heavy machinery and working long hours in isolated environments increase the potential for serious injuries and death. Ohio averages around 24 farm-related fatalities statewide each year.
Many farmers can share stories of family members that have been injured from farm related activities. Ed’s grandfather had a crippled right hand from working with a farm machine and his daughter-in-law lost her father at a young age from a grain mishap. Many farmers are missing limbs from working on equipment and getting their hand or arm caught in a belt or chain. A retired farmer in Putnam County near Kalida was recently killed due to an implement mishap. Farming is the second most dangerous occupation, second only to mining in the United States.
In the past 10 years, there have been 229 farm-related deaths in Ohio, 95 of which involved tractors or heavy machinery. Tractors account for most of the deaths because regardless of farm size or crop planted, every farm has at least one tractor. Rollovers account for many of the tractor related deaths. Safe tractors should have ROPS – rollover protected structures. Research has shown that roll bars and seat belts used together are 99 percent effective in preventing tractor-related injuries and death.
Another safety measure that could lessen the potential for tractor-related deaths or injuries includes the concept of one seat, one rider. Adhering to this rule would prevent incidents where extra riders fall off the tractor as it is being driven and become injured from the fall itself or ran over by a wheel. All terrain vehicles (ATV) have also become more common on farms and country homes. Safety is also important for these vehicles: Ohio ranks 15th out of the 50 states for having ATV related fatalities.
Children are not immune to tragedy with a young boy dying last year in Mercer County in a hopper wagon due to grain suffocation. Farm accidents may happen to any age group. Ohio farm-related fatality reports indicate 14 percent were to youth ages 20 and younger and 40 percent were to people ages 61 and over.
The Agriculture Safety Team of the OSU College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has developed safety modules and information to be viewed during safety week and any other week.
This information may be found at the following sites:
Trailer for the Grain Rescue Simulator that trains first responders and farm families about the hazards of flowing grain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M94zpPBmXZ4
Does your tractor have ROPS: http://ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/192/pdf/0192_1_56.pdf
Partnership in safety: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEj1eDEdZsA
Sharing Ohio roads among cars, tractors, buggies, and bicycles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5b7HuinLPQM.
Fifty years of slow moving vehicle (SMV) signs: http://agsafety.osu.edu/smv-emblem
Play Tread-Sylvania, New Mexico State University’s ATV safety game: http://treadsylvania.com/
As harvest approaches, farmers and the community can reduce accidents on the road and on the farm by following a few safety steps and being alert. We can save lives and reduce serious injuries during this busy fall harvest season. Let’s have a safe and prosperous harvest this year.
Ed Lentz of the OSU-Extension in Hancock County contributed to this column.