Thursday, October 23, 2014

Accidents Are Costly For Everyone
September 19, 2013 | No Comments

By John Parker Before long, people are going to see those big combines out in local soybean and corn fields harvesting this falls crops, a…

By John Parker

Before long, people are going to see those big combines out in local soybean and corn fields harvesting this falls crops, a busy and important time of the year for farmers. Grain being harvested helps put food on the dinner table and is the years income for many grain farmers.

At the same time, safe operation of that harvesting equipment, both large and small, is essential. Farm injuries are both emotional and painful experiences, as well as being expensive and causing many problems for farm families.

Last week was National Farm Safety and Health Week. Special attention was given to safe operation of farm equipment, on the farm and over the road. Farming is one of the highest risk occupations in the country.

Sometimes one sees the attitude that farm accidents happen to the other guy, not me, and thats when accidents are most apt to happen. Safety is an attitude of remembering that the equipment being operated is dangerous and high risk at all times.

There are many acres of both corn and soybeans to be harvested in the local area. Often the window provided by Mother Nature to get the crops in the bin is short. Weather is a big factor. So, when the weather is right, it is a busy time with long days and some nights spent in the fields to get the job done.

Farmers need to take breaks and not get too tired because that is when many accidents happen. Stopping for regular meals or letting another qualified operator run the combine for a while is helpful.

With the larger farm operations in the area, farmers often have to travel the highways to get from field to field. If one comes up behind one of those big machines on the road, be patient with them. They have to get to the next field and have no other choice but to use the highway. Be alert and watch what the combine operator is doing. Driver distraction is a major cause of accidents of all kinds on the roads.

Farmers also need to help motorists when possible. Keep clean, bright, obvious slow moving vehicle emblems on their equipment. Flashing lights are also good whenever possible. Up to date lighting at night is essential. Better yet, avoid traveling at night unless it is necessary, and it sometimes is.

Grain also has to be moved from field to farm bins or the elevator in town. Slow moving tractors or pick-up trucks will be towing wagons with the soybeans or corn on the highways. They also can slow down traffic and it takes careful driving to safely pass them. As we move into harvest, one will often find these vehicles on the roads. Corn has been chopped in the fields for a couple of weeks now, so people may have already seen wagons full of the chopped corn on the highways.

Local farming has change drama-tically over the last 25 years. Larger, more efficient farms have kept an abundant supply of healthful food on dinner tables at reasonable prices. Using technology to increase yields has been another factor in keeping reasonable food prices.

Without technology and increases in farm efficiency, food would be costing the public considerably more. To continue to use farming practices of 25 or 50 years ago would mean less food available and at higher prices.

So when drivers finds themselves impatient with that farm equipment on the road this fall, remember those farmers are helping everyone by putting plentiful and good food on the dinner table. Give thanks for what they are doing for everyone.

Parker is retired from Ohio State University and an independent agricultural writer.

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