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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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