The Indiana Rural Safety and Health Council and the Purdue University farm safety program, headed by Bill Field, offered a series of three classes around the state recently. The goal of each class was to provide six hours of instruction for young, potential workers, especially, but not limited to those that might work in the grain industry.
"Many of these kids are hired to work at these types of places and have no training going in," Field says. At least two high-profile cases of deaths of children working illegally in such facilities have brought the need for training to the forefront.
Field and his staff created the programming for the one-day course. Each participant would get a certificate when finished, plus a hard hat and other free safety equipment provided through donors. Lunch was provided and IRSHC even agreed to pay for travel if vo-ag programs brought their members to the event. A similar offer a few years ago brought a sizable crowd from several chapters. However, that event was about farm safety in general, and not about training for potential employment in a grain facility.
Turnout was lower than Field hoped, even though he received excellent cooperation from Brock Bins in Milford and other industry supporters. At one of the courses the people benefitting the most were about 20 Purdue students who decided it would be useful to have the training.
Why didn't more people, especially from high schools, show up? There are likely a number of reasons, including timing close to national convention when students will miss other school days, since this was a during-the-week event, tighter school budgets, even to pay for substitute teachers and less willingness for administration to let students out of school for other events than in the past.
One factor may be just how much people emphasize safety these days. Unfortunately, the truth is that if an accident happens in your community, say a grain entrapment or a tractor rollover, whether the person is killed or not, the interest in safety spikes. Field and his staff typically get many calls from that area for safety training programs over the next several months. In cases of grain entrapment, these high-profile cases have led to groups, often FFA chapters, buying rescue tubes and placing them at points in the county where local fire departments can use them.
What Field would prefer is that people would be interested in learning how to do jobs safely before someone has to get killed or seriously injure dot spur interest. You can do your part by discussing safety with your family, especially if harvest is still underway and by encouraging your kids to take advantage of any safety training activities they might have.