Clemson Agricultural Safety

Safety Spotlight – December 2020

“My current position with Clemson Cooperative Extension allows me to serve as a liaison between Extension and Development, and provides me the opportunity for state-wide Extension events coordination and planning. I was born and raised on a row crop and cattle operation in Southeast Georgia, so I have literally been around agriculture my entire life. After graduating from Clemson University with my undergraduate degree, I found myself married to a cattle farmer in Anderson, South Carolina, where we reside today. Raising our children in agriculture is a blessing and I am so thankful for the opportunity, yet it comes with its own set of worries.”

How did you hear about the Ag Safety Program?
MB: I heard about the Ag Safety Program through working on a safety project with Hunter Massey.

How important is it for farmers and other people in agriculture be safe?
MB: Safety in any industry is important, but its of the utmost importance in agriculture. Agriculture is one of the few industries where we are constantly around dangers. To add to the dangers, a large portion of the time, farmers and people in agriculture often work alone and generally with equipment that can cause major in a matter of seconds if something goes wrong. This amplifies the need for safety.

How often do you run across the topic of safety in your position?
MB: In my current position I encounter the topic of safety semi-frequently. It’s definitely a topic that has grown awareness over the years.

What do you think the biggest concern is regarding agricultural safety?
MB: Wow, what a question; the biggest concern regarding agriculture safety in my opinion is just how dangerous farming is in general.

Is there enough being done about teaching agricultural safety across the state of South Carolina?
MB: No, I think there is always room for growth in agricultural safety education, not just in our state but nationwide. There are so many aspects of agriculture and they all have their own unique safety hazards. We also find that often times farmers diversify, yet they learn as they go, leaving themselves open to safety errors.

Why is safety necessary?
MB: Safety is necessary for success and longevity. This industry doesn’t have much forgiveness in safety errors; limb loss, debilitating, and life loss are at the top of safety mistakes in agriculture. So that alone tells you safety is a necessity.

What do you think is the best way to teach agricultural safety?
MB: I wish I had the answer to this, but I can tell you that I took a Farm Medic class about 13 years ago and it alone has had a lasting impact on my actions on the farm. I had seen videos of farm accidents, and knew more than one farmer with a missing limb from a farm accident, but until I watched how fast the PTO sucked a prop up, twisted it around, or how quickly the hay baler rolled the prop up, and what it took to disassemble the equipment to remove the prop, I didn’t fully comprehend.

Describe the impacts that a safety intervention can have on children.
MB: I think this is one of the major areas that we need to focus on in agricultural safety. The intervention may save a child’s life. One of the statistics associated with agricultural safety is the staggering rate of child death via farm accidents. If we can educate farmers and their families on agriculture safety it’s possible we can begin to decrease farm accidents overall.

What is the biggest way to leave an impression on middle to high school age children?
MB: Visuals and simulations. Most of us respond best to visuals and these children are not any different.

What can be done to spread awareness about safety issues?
MB: As an industry we have made progress in this area. Equipment manufacturers have increased safety guards and precautions, but that’s not enough. We need to highlight safety precautions and become more self-aware of our actions and the dangers of our actions.

What is the biggest concern teaching adults about safety precautions?
MB: To me, the biggest concern for teaching adults about agricultural safety precautions is getting them to change the way they have been doing something to a safer way. It’s hard to change a habit.

Submitted by Marie Bolt

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