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Don't Let Safety Lapse Sideline You
After six months of sitting on the sidelines, David Stoner
is back in the combine. The 62-year-old Mt. Vernon, Iowa, farmer knows that he
is lucky to be alive.
Stoner was loading corn out of the bin last March. His brother
Dan left with a truckload, and was only a few miles down the road when David
noticed a problem. “The bin had coned out,” he says. “The sweep auger was
turning, but the outside wheel didn’t have enough traction. It was hung up on a
high spot on the floor.”
So the normally safety-conscious veteran farmer took a risk.
He kicked it. The next thing he knew he was lying on the bin floor, with his
jeans leg shredded. Somehow, with his left leg broken and bleeding profusely,
he was able to get to the bin door to use his cell to call for help.
He spent the next three weeks in the hospital and underwent
five surgeries. A blood clot lodged in his lung after the second surgery. He
sat out the spring planting, hooked up to a wound vacuum and blood clot filter.
A few weeks ago, his doctor gave him the go-ahead to harvest
the crop. “The doctor said that he had made a faster-than-expected recovery,”
his wife JoAnn says.
Many farmers don’t recognize that farm safety is risk
management, says Bob Wells, Iowa State University Extension economics
specialist. “Being injured is a human resource risk on the farm,” he says.
According to the National Safety Council, each farm fatality
has an associated cost of $1,150,000 and each injury carries a $34,000 price
tag. Although not all injuries are permanently disabling, they represent time
lost, and are a cost to the farm operation’s bottom line. “Injuries and
fatalities cause a lot of expense and hardship for families,” says LaMar Graff,
Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health.
This week, during National Farm Safety and Health Week,
Graff wants farmers to recognize that safety can be managed. The majority of
farm-related fatalities and injuries occur from May through October, with peak injury
during planting and harvest.
A total of 24.5% of farm fatalities and injuries involve
vehicles. A major cause of tractor collisions on public roads is the disparity
in speed between cars and tractors. If a motorist is traveling 55 miles per
hour, and comes upon a tractor moving 15 miles per hour, it only takes five
seconds to close a gap the length of a football field.
Nearly half of collisions between motorist and farm
implements involve one of two situations:
“Harvest is one of the busiest times for traffic on rural
roads, and we see the number of crashes between motor vehicles and farm
equipment peak during this time,” says Murray Madsen, associate director for
the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health, University of Iowa.
He advises that farmers should make sure that:
**Reflectors and slow-moving vehicle emblems are in place on
all tractors and implements.
**Reflectors and SMV emblems are clean and in good
**Warning lights are used on tractors.
**Lights are installed on the back of wagons and farm
implements at the eye level of a motorist.
For more about rural roadway safety, contact the Iowa Center
for Agricultural Safety and Health at 319/335-4438, or visit
Other farm injuries can be prevented by developing safer
work habits, improving maintenance or making prompt minor repairs:
Personal protective equipment also plays a significant role
in staying healthy on the farm. Wearing respirators, gloves, goggles, and
sunscreen are just a few proactive behaviors, For more information about personal protective equipment,
call AgriSafe Network at 866/312-3002, or visit www.agrisafe.org.
Making farms safer also protects children. ATV safety is a
special concern for farm children and teenagers. This year’s National Safety
and Health theme is ATVs: Work Smart, Ride Safe. Check for PSAs and safety
fliers at www.necasag.org.
Parents and grandparents also need to:
**Talk to kids about dangerous work areas, and make sure
they know what is off-limits.
** Remind them of rules on a regular basis; listing the
rules once isn’t enough
** Devote an entire day to family safety dos and don’ts.
For more on protecting children, contact Farm Safety 4 Just
Kids 800/423-5437, or visit fs4jk.org. Contact The National Children’s Center
in Marshfield, Wisconsin for guidelines on children’s chores and safe play