For the week of Nov. 6, 2017

It's about safety

 By John Schlageck, Kansas Farm Bureau

While a farm or ranch can be the most wonderful place in the world to raise a family, it comes with its own special set of hazards that don’t exist anywhere else.

In 2015, 401 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury, resulting in a fatality rate of 19.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. Transportation incidents, which include tractor overturns, were the leading cause of death for these farmers and farm workers.

On average, 113 youth less than 20 years of age die annually from farm-related injuries in the United States. Most of these deaths occurring to youth 16-19 years of age.

Of the leading sources of fatal injuries to youth, 23 percent involved machinery (including tractors), 19 percent involved motor vehicles (including ATVs) and 16 percent were drowned.

Slowing this trend is a never-ending challenge. It is also an opportunity every day.

Children and families play, live and work on the farm. There’s no getting away from the machinery. This same machinery is always there and it doesn’t have a heart.

Farm machinery is made to cut, chop and grind and it won’t distinguish between crop tissue and human flesh. That’s why producers must use their heads, practice safety and stay out of harm’s way.

When it comes to the education process of farm safety, seek out programs offered by farm organizations like Kansas Farm Bureau. Commodity groups may offer safety instruction as well.

Men, women and children should attend such learning sessions whenever such opportunities exist. This should be a priority for all who operate tractors, combines, balers, augers and other machinery.

Kansas Farm Bureau’s safety education arsenal is filled with a series of displays that are graphic and show amputations caused by various types of farm machine.

The idea behind such safety demonstrations is to offer safety awareness before a farmer or rancher needs it.

Everyone becomes a safety advocate after an accident. Farmers and ranchers should think and practice safety every moment of every day.

Not enough time and haste are two of the main reasons farmers wind up in accidents. The reason most farm fatalities are male is because more men handle the equipment.

Farm safety is not always an easy message for farmers and ranchers to implement in the workplace. However, the point is to think and plan to stay healthy, active and safe in what can be a potentially hazardous environment.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.