Thanks to some very timely and much-needed rains, we’ve been putting up more hay the last couple of weeks.
What a blessing it has been to stockpile more forages for the coming winter months, especially considering how dry we were through most of the summer and how fast hay prices have been moving up as a result.
This past weekend, the kids and I were heading over to one of our hay fields where my dad and husband were out working. Loaded with snacks and drinks for the guys, it was supposed to be a quick trip before we headed back home to finish our homeschool lessons for the day.
Along the route, my daughter noticed a white cross on a fence post with a flower arrangement hanging on it. She asked me why it was there. And no sooner had I finished explaining to her about the fatal car accident that happened on that gravel road so many years ago, we nearly had an accident of our own.
Tall corn fields. No stop signs. Traffic.
It’s a combination that can be deadly, and we had a narrow miss ourselves as we entered an intersection just at the same time as another driver did. Thank God, we didn’t collide, but that scenario could have ended much differently.
With my heart pumping and a pit in my stomach, I took the opportunity to discuss farm safety with the kids, and I made a mental note that I better follow my own advice a little more closely as harvest season approaches.
At that moment, I knew farm safety would be the topic of today’s blog, but what I didn’t realize that in just one week, it is National Farm Safety Week.
John Shutske for The Country Today, writes, “Since 1944, the U.S. president has proclaimed one week of the year to be National Farm Safety and Health Week (NFSHW). Marking the 78th official observance of NFSHW, the 2021 theme is ‘farm safety yields real results.’
“It’s not coincidental that NFSHW occurs over the third week of September. In most areas of the country, this time of year is associated with the rush involved in harvesting crops, and the extra work necessary to prepare animals, facilities, and equipment for the winter, as well as other tasks to button down the farm for pending cold weather.
“In addition, daylight hours are shortening, and school is back in session. Families are busy and those employed on the farm are putting in long hours. Add all these variables together and you have the recipe for a potential farming injury or exposure to adverse conditions that can impact health.
“It is true that farm safety yields results. But what does that mean? Having a ‘safety attitude’ or being intentional about using your ‘common sense’ is not enough. A farm is much like any other high-risk industrial workplace involving potentially dangerous machines, tractors, highway travel and other physical and biological hazards such as grain bins, silos and stored manure. And then there’s the human factor. Extremes in a worker’s age – whether young or old – long working hours and resulting fatigue can make it difficult for people to keep themselves out of harm’s way.”
Shutske offers five tips for improving safety measures on the farm. Click here to read them all.
NFSHW is officially scheduled for Sept. 19-25, 2021.
According to the University of Minnesota, “The 2019 data for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 573 fatalities, or an equivalent of 23.1 deaths per 100,000 workers.
“NFSHW was initiated by the National Safety Council and is led by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS), the agricultural partner of the National Safety Council.”
The U.S. Ag Centers encourages folks to encourage farm safety on social media all of next week (but now is a great time to start, too). Themes of discussion for the week include tractor safety, rural roadway safety, overall farmer health, youth safety, agricultural fertilizer and chemical safety, and women in agriculture health and safety.
Please, stay safe out there. We are all stressed, all in a hurry, all trying to squeeze the most daylight out of our 24 hours, but one mistake can cost you everything.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.