Editorial: Safety: Take the Time

9/14/2013 7:00 AM
By Chris Torres Regional Editor

The warm days are slowly but surely coming to an end, and soon we’ll all be feeling winter’s chill.

Until then, though, farmers have a lot of work to do. I’ve been reminded of this recently as I’ve found myself stuck behind not one, not two, but three tractors a day on the picturesque roads I take to get to the office each day.

Farmers are out cutting silage, emptying out manure pits, harvesting fruit — just about anything that needs to be done to reap the bounty from a productive growing season.

And with harvest coming into full swing as National Farm Safety and Health Week kicks off Sunday, it’s a good time to think about farm safety.

Unfortunately, one doesn’t have to go far to be reminded of the constant dangers that farming entails.

Just last week in Junius, N.Y., a 3-year-old boy was killed after being run over by a horse-drawn wagon driven by his father.

According to an Associated Press report, the boy had jumped from a moving wagon and was trying to get back on when was run over by a wheel from an attached trailer carrying livestock.

In Woodlawn, Ill., a 70-year-old farmer died recently while mowing hay on his farm. According to reports, the man had stopped on a hillside and was starting to get off the tractor when it began to roll, running him over.

And in Warwick, Mass., a 77-year-old farmer was killed while haying when the draft horses he was using became startled, knocked him to the ground and dragged him a short distance.

Farmers are eager to get work done. It’s understandable. The weather has been good, so farmers naturally want to take advantage of it.

But hurrying to get it done at the risk of your own life just isn’t worth it.

If something is wrong with the combine when you’re taking corn off, don’t leave the engine running as you make a quick fix. Take your time, do it right and do it safely.

If the manure pit is full and ready to be stirred, make sure children aren’t playing nearby. There have been too many tragic stories of people being killed when they are overwhelmed by fumes from a manure pit.

And if your tractor doesn’t have a rollover protection structure, or ROPS, get one installed. You just never know if you’ll hit a questionable piece of ground that might result in a freak accident. Why not protect yourself?

Everyone has heard about something tragic happening to someone else. And inevitably, one of the first reactions is: That will never happen to me.

But everyone should take the time to think again.

Farmers shouldn’t roll the dice with their own lives on the line just because they want to get work done quickly or think they can negotiate a difficult hill without tipping the tractor over.

It’s just not worth it.

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