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8 BC HOLSTEIN NEWS ❁ SPRING 2021
FARM SAFETY
For Everybody's Benefit
 A Fe w M o r e M i n u t e s t o B B e e F Fa a r r m m S S a a f f e e Worth the Investment
   Mariah Schuurman, B.A., Trinity Western University
Mariah was raised on an Alberta dairy farm and completed her B.A degree at TWU in 2017.
The thing about cows is that they are animals of habit. If you’re late for morning milking, the cows will be hollering at the holding area waiting for you. Even though the early call of the robot or tractor breakdown might shift a schedule, dairy farming is a 24/7 job, and often slips farmers into autopilot.
With added exhaustions of early morning shifts and changing seasons, there seems to be a steady feeling of urgency – like there’s always something more to do. As farmers prepare for the busy season and dust-off stored equipment, fellow farmers urge caution and awareness with machinery.
Don’t Cut Corners
Al Fadden, a fifth-generation dairy farmer in Abbotsford, began farming with his brothers when he was out of high school. Now retired, he considers himself lucky, recalling a chance encounter with a PTO shaft. The incident, which broke both his leg and arm, took many years and surgeries to recover.
Part of going back to work, Al suggests, requires a mindset of determination. He approached his return to work by
acknowledging his obstacles and moving forward in spite of them.
Still, he cautions other farmers, “When you cut a corner, it may cut you back.” One of his reminders as farmers transition into the crop season is that machinery doesn’t stop if you’re in the way. His suggestion is that shortcuts aren’t worth the time: “It may take you one minute to walk around a tractor, but it takes a lot longer to recover and come back.”
Be Careful with Your Machinery
Al mentions his neighbour with a similar injury, Rick Krahn, whose coveralls got stuck on a grease fitting which pulled his leg onto a spinning PTO shaft. Rick operates Birchwood Dairy Farm in Abbotsford with his dad, Lenard, and his brother, Brian. The two neighbours stayed in touch over the years, supporting each other as they worked to overcome their injuries. Together, they were able to remind each other to keep going.
Rick maintains that being on the farm was what kept him going. After he was sent home from the hospital, he would be out in the barn on a scooter, making sure he kept his head in the game, “The
Fully recovered from his accident, Quentin is happy to be back in the barn and enjoying activities with his family.
(See page 25 of BCHN Fall 2020 issue.)
farm was my goal.”
Rick shares his advice openly, “It’s easy to get complacent with your machines. I was tired when this happened; I make sure my employees are not as tired. Go through the equipment with new employees to make sure everyone is safety conscious.”
Take Your Time
Quentin Bruns, an organic dairy farmer in Mara, has been farming his family’s land with his wife, Daniela, since 1996. On June 4, 2020, a brush mower fell on Quentin and shattered his pelvis.
The hardest part of recovery was sitting on the sidelines while his wife, son, and hired hand worked tirelessly through the cropping season; frankly, “It feels like you’re adding to their work,” he says. He found it difficult to watch his family struggle, but is grateful for his support network that aided in his journey back onto his feet.
He chuckles thinking about his healing process, “I gained an appreciation for the little things like putting my own socks on.” While he says he’s more aware of risks and how to mitigate them, he’s shocked at how easy it is to fall back into
The difficult road back from his injury made Rick more safety-focused on farm, especially ensuring staff aren’t at risk from over-tired conditions.
old routines. He is appreciative of his wife and family who are more than willing to keep him in check when it comes to safety on the farm.
For Quentin, and for many farmers, it’s easy to distance yourself from farm injuries when they don’t happen close to home – it’s easy to think that ‘it won’t happen to me.’ His hope is that by opening the conversation, more people will acknowledge the reality of on-farm safety. His reminder to fellow farmers is that “You do have the time.”
Consistency and routine are important practices of a successful operation, but relying on habit alone can get you into dangerous situations. When the to-do list is 100 pages long, your brain might be a couple steps ahead, rushing to get through a task you’ve done more times than you can count. It only takes a few moments for a serious accident to happen, even for long-time experienced farmers. Rushing, tiredness, distraction, complacency are everyday risks in farming. Al, Rick, and Quentin’s stories offer reminders not to take daily tasks for granted. A job may take a few extra minutes the safer way, but that time is worth the investment.
   Fast and unforgiving, PTO shafts need guards, awareness and safe distance.
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