The theme for National Farm Safety & Health Week this week is Agricultural Safety & Health…A Family Affair. At the safety and health forum in West Lafayette Tuesday that theme resonated with many high school students in the audience, and early in the day they heard story after story of specific farm accidents as told by Tom Bechman of Indiana Prairie Farmer. What was his purpose in relating all those very sad stories?
“That they need to pay attention and realize they’re not invincible and bad things can happen,” he told HAT. “My charge was what are the consequences of farm accidents, and the fatalities and some that aren’t fatal result in a lot of pain for the person hurt. The family has to make changes to adapt to that person’s injuries and dependent on how much insurance coverage they had it may be a financial liability.”
Demonstrations during the forum included a simulated grain bin rescue, fire extinguisher safety, and the Wabash Township Fire Department simulated extracting a farmer from under a rolled tractor. Kevin McCombs is the public information officer and he says the department has the training and equipment needed to respond to a real on-farm incident.
“We’ve had this equipment for about 2 ½ years and have actually used it multiple times with vehicles that have turned over. We haven’t used it on an actual farm emergency but with this training it’s helping our members as well in dealing with and getting a bigger picture of how we can approach farm equipment that has turned over.”
He told HAT their equipment is robust enough for the largest farm equipment with “two airbags rated close to 20 tons. And the struts will handle about the same as well.”
McComb’s volunteer department serves the area surrounding the Beck’s Agricultural Center and members have received farm safety training there in the past. He says most rural departments across the state and nation are becoming more equipped to handle farming incidents, and training is intensifying for all types of emergencies.
The Indiana Rural Safety and Health Council has consistently co-hosted events like this week’s forum since 1945. An updated map of the state served as a stark reminder of the occurrence of fatal accidents on the farm. Since 1980 only one Indiana county has not had a fatal farm accident.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/09/Ag-Safety-and-Health-Forum.mp3|titles=Ag Safety and Health Forum]