Farmers, farm families and farm workers are at more risk for serious injury than just about any other group of people. That is especially evident during harvest time.
As a kid I helped clean and reset spindles on our cotton pickers. To me they were just about the coolest things on the farm. They are like dinosaur teeth, especially when they were set in the picker heads.
Once remounted, they are like a nightmarish maw. I wouldn't, and still won't, go near them when they are in operation.
I have however, seen individuals try to dislodge something from a picker head with a stick when the spindles are spinning. It just makes me mad.
I've never had to pull someone from a picker head, but I know people who have. It never ends well.
I mention all this to make a point. We need to always be aware that regardless of whether we are working in front of picker heads or feeding livestock, we should know how to keep ourselves free of harm.
It is that need for caution and awareness that was the impetus for the Agricenter International's Farm Safe program, a safety education program that the organization provides free of charge.
Pam Robinson, safety and compliance manager, and John Butler, president of the Agricenter International, have put their hearts and souls into the program.
As I sat with them to discuss a four-part series Delta Farm Press is doing to promote farm safety, I heard them discuss why the program is so personal to them.
Early on, those of us involved in agriculture have learned that cutting corners can lead to serious injury. I am sure that you have an injury story that is close to you in some way – most of us do.
My dad is a great example of caution. He never set us out to do a chore without pointing out what could happen if we failed to be mindful.
I remember listening to him tell us about how dangerous the PTO was if you had on loose clothing or long hair. He made a point of telling us to make sure the tractor was in neutral before getting off or out of gear before starting it.
Later on, we attended safety workshops with the guys that worked for us. There is nothing like seeing accident photos to make you aware of dangers of the farm. They are never fun to see.
The Agricenter's Farm Safe program may not be as graphic as old driver's education films, but they do show the necessity of paying attention to the hazards that abound.
Access to the Farm Safe program is through the FarmSafeEveryDay.com website. Again, it is a free program. Each of the 17 modules takes about 20 minutes to complete.
As we dive deeply into harvest season, let's remember to be farm safe.