Q: Why should people pay attention to National Farm Safety and Health Week?
A: One of the busiest seasons of the year is fast approaching in Iowa. Hired hands and grain haulers will harvest more than 22 million acres of crops.
Our state’s economy and heritage is heavily anchored in agriculture. When the fall harvest hits, it’s good for Iowans to have a bit more patience behind the wheel when sharing the road with farm traffic. It’s the perfect time to emphasize to new drivers that the fluorescent orange emblem on the rear of a vehicle means to slow down. It’s helping to fuel, clothe and feed America, all the while invigorating the local economy.
For generations, farm families have understood the risk that comes with earning a living from the land, tending livestock and fixing what’s broken, from fences to heavy machinery. On a daily basis, farm safety is key to survival and livelihood. Farm families, especially those with young children, understand that safety is a high priority all 365 days of the year. National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 15-21, helps to draw attention to environmental safety, workplace precautions and emergency response practices that farming communities can put in place to keep families and their neighbors safe and sound. Whether we live on the farm or in a town or city, it’s a good reminder to take farm safety seriously.
Q: What precautions are recommended?
A: As a farmer, I appreciate the job pressures that are handed down from one generation to the next. During harvest season, farmers put in even longer hours and must deal with seemingly endless equipment breakdowns and uncooperative weather. Just consider the drought has spread across nearly 42 percent of the state, impacting crop yields and adding more stress to a farmer’s worries. Injuries and illnesses also add to the uncertainty.
According to Farm Safety For Just Kids, a national farm safety organization based in Iowa, farmers are advised to secure the slow moving vehicle emblem on their farm equipment. Be sure it’s clean and visible. Be mindful of flowing grain suffocation hazards while unloading in bins and wagons. Take advantage of rollover protection, especially for older tractors. Staying alert and getting enough sleep is perhaps the cheapest advice, but also the hardest to follow during the harvest season. It’s tempting to take short cuts or avoid a safety precaution when time seems more important. Remember a golden rule of farming: It’s better to be safe than sorry. Taking common sense precautions will help yield a safe, bountiful harvest.