MERCER, Pa. — As the summer heats up and the list of tasks on the farm grows, some farmers take shortcuts to safety in order to get the job done faster.
The Penn State Extension-Mercer County office held Safety Day July 10 to remind everyone, including youth, that safety should come first.
The Agricultural Health and Rural Safety Advisory Committee, local agricultural sponsors, and Extension staff held a day of safety demonstrations.
The best defense against accidents is prevention. That’s what program coordinator Gary Micsky tried to stress to those in attendance. He said so many accidents can be prevented by just putting safety first. He said some people suffer injuries and recover. However, many times they are not like they were before the accident.
Other times, the farmer who often works alone suffers the accident and suffers death from their injuries.
He reminded the group that power take off units are one of the worst accidents and yet many times so popular.
Micsky said that some farmers don’t use guards on their PTO’s and they pay with their lives. He urges all farmers to make the purchase which is around $150 for a new PTO guard.
Russ Carlson shared his story of farm safety. He said it took him two years afterward to even discuss it.
He was oiling the chain on the manure spreader when it grabbed a hold of his sweatshirt. The machine grabbed his sweatshirt and tore it off of him then slammed him against the machine.
“You’re doing what you do everyday. It only takes a second and your whole life can change,” said Carlson.
Carlson said he learned several lessons from the accident. One was that every machine should have the proper guards in place. Another is don’t work alone and don’t be in a hurry.
Although farmers don’t like to talk about accidents on the farm, it was clear from the speakers that they need to in order for farmers to be safe.
Another farmer, Anthony Nicoletto, a dairy producer, shared the story of his skid steer accident in his dairy barn and stressed that he was in a hurry and didn’t follow the safety precautions. He told the group that prior to his accident, he had been considering adding on to his dairy business. He said the bank estimated the value of his farm at $758,000 at that time.
When the hospital bills started rolling in, they totaled over $750,000.
“Accidents cost money. They can cost you the farm,” said Nicoletto.
He said he was lucky and that his wife had medical insurance but if she hadn’t, then the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center may own his farm now.
Micsky also told the group that everyone has to know their limits on the farm and know their surroundings. He urged all farmers to take a break when they get tired.
“It’s just not worth it,” said Micsky.
Another tip Micsky shared dealt with tractor rollovers. He reminded the group that rollover protection structures or ROPS only works if the operator is wearing a seatbelt.
“Remember machines don’t give way, your body will have to,” he said.
Youth in attendance also learned tips when trying to get the attention of a tractor or other machinery operator.
Attendees were reminded to make eye contact and be sure the operators know you are there before approaching the machine.
In addition, the Penn State Tractor Stability Simulator — a full size tractor cab was on site and allowed participants to experience what a roll-over feels like without actually putting safety at risk.
The group also discussed chain saw safety and wearing the proper hearing protection for every activity on the farm.