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Don't Let Safety Lapse Sideline You

CHERYL TEVIS 09/22/2010 @ 2:58pm Cheryl has been an editor at Successful Farming since 1979.

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:

(1)  Left-hand turn

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