The warm sunshine of spring has melted winter’s icy grip and that means one thing — field work is about to get underway. Given the weather, especially the precipitation of the past winter, that field work will be fast and furious when the ground finally dries out. We all know that means long hours and seven-day work weeks. It can be exhausting and dangerous.
I am also sure we all are aware that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations. It’s just a bit safer than coal mining, I believe. So far in 2019, Kansas has recorded two farm-related fatalities.
It makes sense. We work long, hard hours on large machinery and often in remote areas. Farm accidents are something we have all either experienced or know someone who’s had one.
Sure, accidents can and do occur because of mechanical failures and circumstances that may be out of our control, but I would hazard a guess, most often, that is not the case. If you have not had an accident on the farm, I would imagine you have had a close call or two. When that has happened, what was your reaction?
I am not immune from this, while I have never had a serious accident, I have had a couple of close calls. These close calls were all results of mistakes that could be chalked up to one of two causes. Either I was hurrying, or I cut a corner and ignored a safety procedure. Most of the accident victims I have known have told me the same thing. “I knew better.”
I have been there. Weather is approaching, time is limited, and work is backed up. This panic mode causes us to take chances, work longer and go faster than we would normally. I don’t know about you, but it seems as though the faster I try to go, the longer a task takes me. Couple that with the danger associated with going too fast and cutting corners and it is just not worth it.
Safety is a habit and we learn habits by adopting something and doing it until it is second nature to us. Farm safety is a learned habit just like wearing our seatbelt (which, by the way, is a good practice when they are provided). If we always put them into practice, we will do them every time, even when time and Mother Nature are against us.
As farmers we account for less than 2 percent of the population, we can’t afford to lose even one producer. Please promise me that as the dark clouds are gathering on the horizon and time is of the essence, you will take the extra moment to make sure you are safe. The time probably won’t make a big difference in how much you get done, but it could be the difference between just another day and a tragedy.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.