Clemson Agricultural Safety

Safety Spotlight – March 2020

Justin Ables owns and manages a 5th generation family farm with his dad. Justin lives on the farm with his wife and 3-year-old son. The family farm consists of 10 poultry houses, cattle, and row crop operations. They grow wheat, soybeans, and corn along with hay. Justin graduated from Clemson University with a degree in Agricultural Mechanization and Business. In 2017, Justin was involved in a rollover tractor accident that changed his outlook on farm safety.

How did you hear about Clemson’s Agricultural Safety program?
JA: I was asked to serve on a near-death farm experience panel at a Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Conference that Hunter Massey [Director of Clemson Agricultural Safety] moderated. He spoke on the new Clemson program and gave me some handouts on the program.

Why is safety advocacy important?
JA: The agricultural industry as a whole is a very dangerous occupation to be in. Many times we as farmers take for granted the risks associated with everyday tasks that we do. Specifically for me, having children has changed my outlook. If promoting safety stops one accident from occurring then it has worked.

Do you think early intervention efforts in youth will help promote a safer future in the field of agriculture?
JA: I do believe the early intervention will help just to make youth aware of the dangers they may experience in agriculture. For me, I grew up on the farm and was taught from an early age the right way to do certain tasks on the farm. Now that I am a father, I try to teach my son the same exact principles that I learned throughout my career.

What barriers do you think currently exist that prevent farmers and others from being as safe as possible?
JA: I wouldn’t call it barriers, but in my opinion, most farmers are always pushed for time. We are under pressure to get certain tasks completed due to external factors. This leads to long hours on machinery, which leads to fatigue. Another issue is simple tasks that we do every day and just become careless.

Do you have any personal connections surrounding the issues of agricultural safety?
JA: I was involved in a rollover tractor accident in 2017. An SUV hit me almost head-on, resulting in me rolling down the road in the tractor. Thankfully I walked away without any injuries.

What do you think can be done to spread awareness about safety issues?
JA: Just talking about it and promoting through workshops and other events. Get those that have been involved in an agricultural accident to tell their stories.

Submitted by Justin Ables

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