Safety on the farm (Pig Tales)
(Editor’s note: Dr. Rich Barczewski is an associate professor at Delaware State University.)
Varying weather patterns, cooler than normal temperatures, and late-season snow has made 2018 one for the record books.
Even some of my friends in New England are complaining about the snow and that just does not happen very often.
I reminded a friend in Rhode Island, who was complaining about yet another snowstorm that he can look forward to enjoying the beautiful fall colors which are typically more vibrant in that section of the country.
He didn’t think it was very funny.
Regardless of the current temperatures, we all know that spring is on its way and before long, all of our farmers will be back in the fields planting their crops.
The last frost day in this section of the country falls sometime in late April or the first part of May and everyone will be looking at the weather patterns to get the jump on the springtime activities.
The more delayed planting is, the longer the expected hours many of our producers will be spending in the fields, and with longer hours comes more danger.
Farming is one of the most dangerous of the occupations and in many cases of farm related accidents, they could have been avoided had a little care been exercised.
One of the reasons farming is so dangerous is the equipment. PTOs spinning at high rates of speed, mechanical gears and motors, rapidly rotating blades on choppers and mowers all have the potential of causing serious injury.
Couple that machinery with a tired operator, or one that is not willing to shut a machine down to dislodge a jam and it is easy to understand how accidents can happen.
Not all farm accidents are machinery related either.
Farm animals can be dangerous in certain situations and when we are in the mist of birthing seasons, sometimes mothers can get quite protective.
I always tell my students that when it comes to male farm animals, they all can be dangerous and need to be watched and respected.
Even an animal that has never been aggressive over its entire life can cause harm, but some animals are worse than others and deserve special caution.
Over the course of my life I have personally known of at least two individuals that were killed by dairy bulls.
While most dairy farms no longer keep a bull on the premises thanks to the use of Artificial Insemination, there still are exceptions to that rule.
When it comes to dairy bulls, if I know there is one on the farm, I want to know where it is and if it is in the pasture, I will generally keep one eye on it whenever it is in view.
One additional concern for our ag workers during this time of year is the public roadways.
I am continually baffled by how impatient folks are when our producers move equipment down the road.
As our roadways continue to get more crowded, I suspect we will be hearing of more traffic fatalities too.
So here we go again, into a new year of production and the cycles that typify the farm communities phases of life.
The single most important thing for all our producers to do is to protect themselves and their workers so that they will be here for next years crop year.
If you are tired, stop and rest, even if it is for 15 or 20 minutes.
Know your limits and when you reach them, stop.
Make sure your equipment is properly maintained and if you happen to have a jam-up or clog, shut your equipment down before unjamming it.
Be sure to keep all your guards and safety equipment, on and in place on your machinery.
The few minutes you might save by removing it is not worth a lifetime of regret.
Finally, remember to be safe out there.
While our occupation may be dangerous, we do not have to make it more so by letting our guard down.
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925