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A Rash of Farm Accidents

July 8, 2013

Guest written by Bill Snow, VT AgrAbility Project

Why would 3 farm accidents occur in the same week, within 20 miles of each other?

The three accidents are as follows:

  1. Farmer A uses the same routine every day to put a round bale of hay into the feeder, after his wife opens the metal gate for the tractor to pass through. This day, he’s in a hurry and uses a different approach, hitting his wife’s hand with the loader. Result: wife suffers several broken bones in her hand, requiring surgery.
  2. While round baling on a hillside, Farmer B sees the bale start rolling down the hill. He jumps off the tractor to get it. The hired man sees that the brake was not set; the tractor and baler are rolling down the hill. The hired man gets the farmer’s attention; the farmer tries to hop on the tractor, but is run over and taken to the hospital.
  3. Farmer C has a flat tire on his hay wagon. While working to remove the tire from the rim, the heavy hammer bounces back and hits him near his eye.

I am also aware of a fourth accident recently, though not in the same week as the first three: Farmer D’s son has just returned to work after a month of recuperation. He too got off the tractor without setting the brake; it rolled backwards over him.

Why is this happening?

We had very dry and even dusty conditions in the beginning of May.  It then started raining and hasn’t stopped! May was the wettest on record, and June was within a whisker (0.06″) of being the wettest.

Some farmers have not completed their corn planting and may not do so. Many farmers have been unable to complete their first cutting of hay. Some crops have been lost. Many fields have standing water in them. The crops just don’t look good. It basically rains every day, and flooding occurs often.

Some farmers are depressed, frustrated and worried about having feed for the winter. When the sun shines and they are able to get on the land, the pressure will be on to get as much done as quickly as possible. This pressure makes people take short cuts and take more risks. As one farmer said to me yesterday: “Yes, I was in such a hurry I almost jumped over a running PTO…….I caught myself and said ‘that was a stupid thought’”!

During difficult harvest times you have to be extra-vigilant to be safe. Your life is worth it.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2013 9:05 am

    Thanks for this important reminder!

  2. July 8, 2013 12:38 pm

    I wonder how hard it would be to have an automatic brake system installed, so that when the seat is vacated, the brakes are applied? That would be one engineering intervention to solve tractor roll-away incidents. Failing that, a simple loud buzzer/light alert that reminds the driver to apply the brake when he/she rises from the operator seat, with a kill-switch actuated by the brake circuit – either electronically or mechanically.
    .

  3. July 8, 2013 12:08 pm

    In church last week the sermon was about how we know what to do and still choose to do “the wrong thing”. We know so much about safety, yet emotions get in the way of good sense, and a bad situation gets worse. Thank you for the wake up call!

  4. Robert Stuthridge permalink
    July 8, 2013 11:58 am

    Of course, all involve education/training. Raising awareness of risk in and of itself is unlikely to reduce distraction-related incidents, however. The problem of distraction should be the focus of the intervention.

    Robert Stuthridge M.Sc., Ph.D., CPE Ergonomist Cellphone: 317-292-2809

    From: rstuthri@purdue.edu To: comment+zphx620jn4drufpossnbfp@comment.wordpress.com; agrability-staff@lists.purdue.edu Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2013 11:56:00 -0400 Subject: Re: [Agrability-staff] [New post] A Rash of Farm Accidents

    Gail, The page to your link no longer exists. However, the first two errors are associated with “distraction” while the third error is associated with “ignorance” of the materials/action-effects. These errors are solved in different ways – the 3rd error is educational/training-related, and that is how it must be solved. The first two errors are organizational, and can be solved by systematizing the procedures.

    Robert Stuthridge M.Sc., Ph.D., CPE Ergonomist Cellphone: 317-292-2809

    Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2013 15:49:47 +0000 To: rstuthri@purdue.edu

  5. Robert Stuthridge permalink
    July 8, 2013 11:56 am

    Gail, The page to your link no longer exists. However, the first two errors are associated with “distraction” while the third error is associated with “ignorance” of the materials/action-effects. These errors are solved in different ways – the 3rd error is educational/training-related, and that is how it must be solved. The first two errors are organizational, and can be solved by systematizing the procedures.

    Robert Stuthridge M.Sc., Ph.D., CPE Ergonomist Cellphone: 317-292-2809

    Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2013 15:49:47 +0000 To: rstuthri@purdue.edu

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