In a perfect world, we’d never print another article like Tony Nicoletto’s page one story about his miraculous recovery from a farm accident. Or we’d never share Raymond Koch’s story or Herman Miller’s story (found in this week’s special farm safety supplement) about going through life without an arm, both due to farm accidents.
In a perfect world, accidents never happen.
But if it were up to me, we’d feature a farm safety story each week. Someone’s life shattered or irrevocably altered.
Maybe then, you’d pay attention.
Maybe then, you’d change your ways.
Maybe then, I’d stop seeing 10-year-olds riding on the fender of a tractor. Maybe then, I’d stop talking to dairymen with cleanup bulls on their farms.
Accidents happen. I know that. We’re human; we make mistakes. Farmers work long hours during busy seasons, with a small window to get the job done. They’re tired; they’re stressed.
But an awful lot of farm accidents happen because we’re too cheap, too invincible, too lazy. And sometimes, we’re just ignorant of the dangers. But when we know the risks and take them anyway, we’re just plain stubborn.
It takes only a second … to disengage the PTO … to turn off the tractor … to go get a second pair of hands … to put on the safety goggles … to use the ear plugs. Likewise, it takes only a second to reach across the spinning PTO and become entangled. It takes only a second to blow up a fuel tank while refueling with the tractor engine running. It takes only a second for that tractor to flip over.
Minnesota farmer Kevin Papp puts it this way: “For every serious agricultural injury, the victim will have experienced 10 close calls, 30 cases of personal property damage, and 600 instances when nothing happened at all.
“It’s like choosing one piece of candy from a bag of 641 – 40 coated with Ex-Lax and one with poison. Would you take a piece? Of course not.”
When a farm accident rocks a local community, we’re all a little more careful. For awhile. Then, most of us slide back into our bad habits. We know better, but we’re so used to getting away with our little shortcuts that we think it can’t happen to us.
But it can. It does.
Last year in Pennsylvania, 25 people died in farm accidents. Twenty-one people died in Ohio.
Tony Nicoletto doesn’t like talking about his accident. But he does.
He, like Raymond Koch and Herman Miller, just hopes someone out there is listening.
We do, too.
(Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 800-837-3419 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)