Near miss serves as a farm safety reminder

It was a cool summer morning. I had been given the chore of stacking 13 or so big round bales that were in the small alfalfa field on my parents’ acreage. I was driving an old Allis Chalmers D17 with forks on a Westendorf loader in front, and rear forks as well.

I was traveling downhill with a bale on the front forks and nothing on the back when suddenly something didn’t feel right. I looked over my right shoulder just in time to see my rear wheel was about three feet off the ground and rising. I had loaded the tractor wrong, and a rollover was imminent.

Instinctively, I hit the hydraulic lever near the steering wheel, dropping the bale to the ground. The rear tire hit the ground with a thud. Shaken, and still shuddering, I dismounted the tractor, and left the remaining bales in the field. It would be a few days before I went out to finish.

Fortunately for me, that was the closest I’ve come to a life-altering and potentially ending farm accident. However, for thousands of others, their stories don’t end so happily. If you or your family has ever lived in a rural area, you most likely know a story about someone who wasn’t as lucky as I was.

Sept. 18 through 24 is National Farm Safety and Health Week. I strongly encourage you to take some time this week to review Farm Safety and Health lessons that will help keep you and your family safe as we enter into harvest season. You never know how important those lessons are until you’re staring at a situation in which they’re needed.

It’s also too easy to think of farm safety as involving only tractors and heavy machinery, but there are several other aspects of farm work that can cause irreparable harm. ATV accidents are among the largest contributor to farm fatalities. Driving safely on rural roadways is also imperative both for the machinery traveling down the roads, and also for the drivers that will encounter that machinery. So, please take extra care.

For more information on safe practices, please visit the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety.

I wish you all a safe and happy harvest and a warm holiday season.

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