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Safety and agriculture go hand in hand
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This past Wednesday, Batron Community College hosted the 13th-annual Barton County Farm Bureau Safety Day for area high school students. Topics ranged from safety around electricity and chainsaws to the potential dangers associated with flowing grain in grain bins. The Farm Bureau deserves credit for this event as do all the presenters for raising the awareness of these students to the everyday potential hazards faced by those is agriculture. Agriculture like any industry has associated hazards which can’t be totally eliminated, but can certainly be minimized. Every presenter made a point of stressing that by knowing what you are doing; following common sense precautions and procedures; taking your time and slowing down; and using common sense, these potential dangers can be greatly minimized.
 Most of us involved in agriculture for any period of time can add one item to be aware of, complacency. Routine isn’t a bad thing but when you do things hundreds or even thousands of times, you tend to start not paying as much attention as you should. This problem is often compounded when in a hurry or tired, two things common when trying to juggle everything that goes into growing crops and animals. The agricultural workplace is much, much safer than it was twenty or even ten years ago. While some of the changes in place may seem cumbersome, most are preventing serious injuries or even death. Let’s consider some simple things that we don’t often stop to consider to prevent injury or death.
• If near a tractor, combine or swather, assume the operator can’t see you.
• If in a tractor, combine or swather, assume there is someone out there you can’t see
• Don’t wear ripped or torn clothing that can get caught in chains, belts, or rotating shafts
• Keep shirttails tucked in
• Always assume an item is under tension or pressure, especially when dealing with clogged or plugged items like augers
• Never assume the other guy has set the safety, stop, or brake, or other device set
• Always read the directions or label and follow what it says
The list could go on and on but you get the idea. Often times we focus on the big, complex issues and don’t pay attention to these more simple things. A professor at Ohio State often said they are called “accidents” not “on purposes.”
Along the lines of increasing awareness concerning safety, many medium and larger agricultural enterprises have hired safety trainer and compliance officers over the last decade. Part of this is to deal with state and federal regulations but part of it also stems from the realization that accident, injury, and death are costly in terms of the human toll and in terms of productivity. All of this applies to a lot more than agriculture but to each of us in our everyday lives
Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.