The recent death due to a lady being dragged behind a horse really got me thinking about farm safety. Years ago, we used to be more concerned with safety around farm animals however that focus has changed in recent years as cattle ranches became wheat farms. Still, this tragic death reminded me of how my dad used to always tell us to grip cattle halters and never wrap them around our hands when showing cattle. He thought a lot about our safety, he was a good dad.
In 1944, Franklin D Roosevelt was the first President to sign a proclamation making the third week in September, National Farm Safety & Health Week. It’s a good reminder to think safety on a regular basis and to make safety a priority, even at the sacrifice of productivity. Please remember that nothing cuts into productivity like physical injury, so make safety top priority.
Lloyd Noreen is a friend from years ago. Lloyd told me that most mistakes happened after dark. My sugar beet farm friends have to work around the clock but it’s still good advice to remember that your environment becomes more dangerous when it’s not very well lit. This is also a time when small problems become larger as they go by without notice. This leads to in-field repairs working in close quarters with larger, unrelenting steel equipment in the dark while you are frustrated and tired. It is the perfect atmosphere for injuries and a time when safety is even more important.
I think even small injuries or heightened wear and tear on your body are part of farm safety. If you hurt your hand it may not seem like a such a bad injury however it affects how you use a hand tool or even drive a vehicle. Big problems are typically made from many little ones. I’ve noticed that when I focus on one repetitive task for a long period of time, some part of my body pays the price; multiply this over time and you may eventually have chronic pain or disability.
Your brain is more powerful than your back when applied to any great task. I used to carry railroad ties on my shoulders even when I really didn’t have to because it felt good. Today, instead of using my energy on each individual railroad tie, my efforts go into laying a chain on the ground to hold the ties then lift the whole mess with a tractor. It probably doesn’t add much time to the process and it is certainly less destructive to my bones and muscle.
Northern Minnesota’s primary nesting season ended August 1st so I suspect people will soon be clipping fields or ditches. It seems each year we hear about some who tried to cut grass on a ditch bank and tips their tractor. It seems that it is typically a sickle mower pulled behind a narrow front tractor and I think it is very sad. I can imagine the person wanted only to make things look nice and maybe use a treasured old tractor for a little work, and it ends in tragedy. It would be so much better to hire the work done and use the tractor on flat ground.
The rush of harvest will soon begin. It will be a period of intense focus and work on the farm and on country roads. Harvest will be productive all on it’s own, let’s focus on safety.