Clemson Agricultural Safety

Safety Spotlight – April 2021

Michael Masters

Hometown: Liberty, SC

Position: Agricultural Sciences Shop Manager

“I currently work at Clemson Univesity as the Agricultural Sciences Shop Manager. I work to manage two teaching shops and one research shop for the department. Along with managing shops, I oversee one of the labs that are taught here. In this lab, we teach the students about fabrication practices and the proper use of tools. The students also have the opportunity to learn basic woodworking skills using common tools. In the research shop, we aid research professors and students with fabrication and assembly during projects. Before working at Clemson University, I did not have a ton of agricultural background. However, working here has led to me being involved in many projects that have given me valuable agricultural experience.”

How did you hear about the Ag Safety Program?
MM: Through my involvement with Clemson University Agricultural Sciences Department and Hunter Massey.

How important is it for farmers and other people in agriculture to be safe?
MM: It is essential to be safe around agriculture at all times. However, when people are around something so much, they begin to become complacent within their work. This complacency can lead to costly mistakes, especially in agriculture.

How often do you run across the topic of safety in your position?
MM: I run into safety daily because of the various projects I am working on with Hunter Massey. Along with working on projects, as the primary teacher for an introductory fabrication lab, I run into the topic of safety every time I step foot in the lab to teach.

What do you think the biggest concern is regarding agricultural safety?
MM: I think the biggest concern is the frequency of agricultural-related accidents. It is much higher than I ever thought it would be in our state.

Is there enough being done about teaching agricultural safety across the state of South Carolina?
MM: I think we are headed in a positive direction with teaching about agricultural safety. However, it is sad that the efforts that have been made were slowed down with COVID-19. As the state recovers from this pandemic, I hope that we can continue educating others on the importance of agricultural safety.

Is there any suggestion of how agricultural safety can be improved?
MM: Agricultural safety can be improved by an increased number of Ag Safety Days to help reach both adults and youths to make a lasting impression.

Why is safety necessary?
MM: Safety is necessary to protect the farmers that are the bread of our country and keep farming alive.

What do you think is the best way to teach agricultural safety?
MM: Right now, I think the best way to teach agricultural safety is to teach others through the mistakes others have made. This continues to make others more aware of what could happen.

Describe the impacts that a safety intervention can have on children.
MM: Growing up on a farm more often than not means constantly helping around the farm. Oftentimes, we forget just how easy it is to get hurt around agriculture, and a safety intervention could allow for a teachable moment that might save a child’s life.

What is the biggest way to leave an impression on middle to high school age children?
MM: To leave an impression, first, you must get their attention. The biggest way to leave an impression is to get the children involved and make it interesting so that what they learn will always stick with them.

What can be done to spread awareness about safety issues?
MM: I think the continued use of newsletters and Ag Safety Days can help get the important information out to the eyes that need to see.

What do you do to stay safe during the workday?
MM: Every day, I work around students that have not used certain types of equipment. To stay safe, I always assess my surroundings and wear the proper PPE to not get into harm’s way, and no one else does around me.

How do you handle a safety concern among your students?
MM: The bulk of what I teach surrounds how to operate the various equipment used in the lab safely. During our opening statements in the lab, we always touch on the safety concerns with each piece of equipment and how using it correctly could save the student’s life.

What does your position do to mitigate accidents on the job?
MM: I mitigate accidents by providing the proper training to the students before using the tool. Students are also asked to view instructional videos posted before lab to ensure that they know the tools’ proper use.

What is the biggest concern teaching adults about safety precautions?
MM: I think the biggest concern is getting the adults to understand the gravity of agricultural safety and precations before a situation becomes life-threatening.

Do you have any advice for the agricultural sector in this time of uncertainty?
MM: I think the agricultural sector needs to continue working together and supporting each other while we continue in this time of uncertainty.

Submitted by Michael Masters

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