A plea for safety | Opinion

Three decades ago, the Future Farmers of America embarked on a safety campaign in which members were given stickers to hand out to farmers. The stickers were to be placed in a conspicuous place on tractors and combines. They pleaded with operators, “Please be careful. We love you.”

This comes to mind in the wake of a June 11 tractor accident in northeast Kansas that claimed the life of a 43-year-old man. It was the second farm accident fatality in that region in the last month—an ATV accident resulted in the death of a man who was spraying thistles just a few weeks prior. Earlier this year, a 9-year-old boy in McPherson County, Kansas, was killed in another tractor-related accident. That was the second death of a child in that county in less than 12 months.

Farming is a dangerous business. And this time of year, it is especially so. The combination of harvest’s frantic pace and operator fatigue can lead to errors in judgment, which can then lead to accidents.

According to the American Society of Safety Engineers, each year more than 90 people die in tractor rollover accidents. Twenty-six lives were lost last year in grain bin engulfments in which victims suffocated. Additionally, each year thousands of farmers and ranchers suffer lost-time injuries ranging from broken bones to lost limbs.

The business of feeding the world can be gruesome. There is inherent danger in working with machines that devour vast quantities of crops and hay, high-speed rotating shafts and unpredictable animals.

What you can do

The ASSE has a long list of safety tips for farmers. You know many of these already, but we’ll sum them up here:

• Read and follow all instructions according to the equipment’s operation manual. This is especially important during harvest, when you may have new operators unfamiliar with your machinery.

• Conduct regular…

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