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For Everybody's Benefit
Farm Safety Needs More than Luck
   Ihadnotimetothink...Ijustboltedtoward our runaway Leyland tractor and leapt up to jam on the brakes as it was rolling down the steep driveway when I was 16. Our Leylands had notoriously bad brakes and the front-end loader was a poor substitute for the e-brake in this case. I was more afraid of my father’s wrath than of the risk of falling under the massive rear tire should my timing have been off. Not the smartest risk to take – but I got lucky. And I think that’s true of many farm close-calls.
We get lucky, and we don’t talk about it again.
My father got the brakes fixed on the tractor shortly after.
Farm safety isn’t the topic we put
at the top of our lists very often. Safety has many enemies - busy- ness, shortcuts, distraction, fatigue, unawareness, lack of training/ understanding. I know of too many serious close calls, and we all know of the incidents where life was lost. Is it time to have a talk with ourselves?
I’ve found great support around our industry to make Farm Safety the theme of the Spring issue. Everyone recognizes that dangers exist on farms, and clearly progress is being made in many areas – I see guards protecting moving parts like PTO shafts, belts and conveyors. Chemicals are being stored more diligently. Fences are in place around manure pits. Tractors have cabs and rollbars. But the close-calls have not ended. Farming,
equipment and working around large livestock remain inherently dangerous. I’m not telling you anything new.
It’s really very unsettling to list all the incidents that I know of ....high speed belts/conveyors that trap limbs, spinning PTO shafts that catch and pull, cows and bulls that rolled, stepped-on or pinned someone, falls from a ladder/roof, falls from hay stacks or being hit by falling hay stacks. Manure pits, hay lofts, tractors, mixer wagons. Everyone in farming has their own ‘list.’
Are the increasing number of TFW (temporary foreign workers) adequately trained for safety? My uncle, fresh from India in the 1960’s, suffered a serious chemical burn because of his limited
English and
Can we talk?
lack of awareness/training regarding concentrated dairy chemicals. Foreign workers may be afraid to admit that they don’t understand precise directions – and when it involves safety, the outcomes could be disastrous. Some may come from cultures where refusing to do work that might be dangerous is not an option.
What about farm fire safety? Are we doing all we can to prevent and be prepared? Our family lost three hay barns and several thousand small squares to an electrical fire in 1978. Totally preventable, had we an awareness of better fire-protection precautions. Today, I’m encouraged to see many farms are far better equipped with well-protected electrical systems, protected lights, fire alarms, multiple fire extinguishers and even sprinklers. Some even have ‘fire plans.’
I think we improve safety by starting with dialogue. By talking with staff and family, it brings safety
awareness to the front.
We all wish we had the power to turn back time, just a few seconds, so we could change
that one terrible moment.
Tars Cheema
For Everybody's Benefit
BC Holstein News is pleased
to introduce Farm Safety as
our Spring issue theme. It
is our hope that the various
articles and features
will provide some useful
information and make all of
us think more about safety
in our daily routines.
As we prepare for the busy-ness of Spring, Summer and Fall work, please, let’s make safety intentional. Be safe. 😊
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