Here's a trivia question for you: How many farm Extension safety specialists has Purdue University had in the last seven decades?
The answer is two: Disk Willsey from 1945 through 1976, and Bill Field, from 1978 through the current day.
How many injuries and deaths have they prevented? That's impossible to say. The number of deaths annually related to farm accidents has declined during the past three decades, but so has the number of people working on farms.
"My goal is to find grants so that I can get other people to help spread the message across the state, and it's just not me doing it alone," Field says. "We have people working on everything from training EMTs and rescue personnel about rescuing someone caught in a grain bin to someone making farmers aware of their potential problems with arthritis and what they can do about it."
Field believes that by finding funding to keep more people out on the road and covering different aspects of rural health and safety, he can reach more people than if he works alone and simply does Extension meetings.
"I did a lot when I started and I still do them, but there is only so much time that I have to go around," he says.
Some of his efforts over the years include a grain bin labeling campaign conducted with Indiana Prairie Farmer and Brock Bins in the late 1980s. Field enlisted FFA chapters to help put warning labels on grain bins alerting farmers of the dangers of suffocation and working inside a bin alone.
Field and his staff have also developed effective exhibits for the Indiana State Fair, including an overturned tractor to emphasize the need for ROPS.
Field remains instrumental in seeing that the health and safety tent is staffed with valuable information when the Farm Progress Show visits Decatur, Ill., every other year.
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