How careful are you when driving that tractor? Reversing the trailer? Or picking up a bale?
Back a few years ago, I was giving a talk on farm safety to a group of twenty farmers. The talk went well and after the talk, we went out to the bar for tea and light refreshments. I walked around to talk to the farmers one to one, as I always find someone wants to talk to you face to face and not ask a question in front of others. That evening, I heard a lot of stories as I went around the room.
When I was in college, one of the lectures always would say, do not be afraid to ask questions: “The only stupid question is the question you do not ask”.
That evening, one farmer called Pat asked did I ever get flashbacks from my accident, I replied that I never got flashbacks. Flashbacks are when you are in a sound sleep and then you start to dream about the day of the accident or a near miss. It gets so bad the dream turns to a nightmare and you wake in a cold sweat. I was one of the lucky ones, I never get flashbacks and I can talk about my accident and it does not affect me. Pat explained that he gets flashbacks and this is his story:
Pat was working out in the yard, it was a fine day around the Christmas. Pat went to feed the cattle in the shed. He started his tractor. The bale handler was on the back of the tractor. He drove the tractor to where the bales were stored. He reversed the tractor to pick-up a bale and put it in the handler. The bale that Pat picked was one that was out of shape. Pat made a few attempts to get it on the handler put failed to get the handler under the bale. After four attempts at this he decided to make a drive for it. He buried the handler under the bale and then he turned around in the seat to go forward to feed his cattle. When Pat looked down between the front wheel and the rear wheel of the tractor, he saw his three-year-old grandson standing there with his hands up calling out: “Granddad pick me up”.
What happened was, Pat’s daughter had come to visit the farm, and as she was getting out of the car her son jumped out. She thought that he went into the house as the door of the home house was open, she preceded to take the baby out of the car seat and when she went inside, she discovered that her three-year-old was not there. She ran outside looking for him. The three-year-old heard the tractor when he got out of the car and ran down to the farmyard to get a lift in the tractor. The three-year-old saw Granddad at the bales and ran over to the tractor. Pat was looking around at the bales and did not see his Grandson coming over to him. Pat said what scared him the most was: “If I did not get the bale on the bale handler at that time and had to make another go to get the bale I would have drove over my grandson and he would be dead.” Pat was upset and had to go inside for a while that evening, Pat’s wife knew that something was wrong and waited until the daughter had left before she got the story.
This was a near-miss for Pat, but how many stories like this happen around the country and we never hear about them. The HSA do not want a person under the age of seven on a tractor, because once the young person gets a ride on a tractor, they will always want a lift when they hear a tractor. Another reason for young children avoiding riding the tractor is that a child’s brain is not fully protected and all the bouncing around is not good for the brain.
Tip of the week
Make it hard for children to have access to the farmyard. So what if it means putting up a gate or a fence. At least you will be able to sleep a night, knowing that you did everything that you could to prevent an accident. Try not to get into the habit of giving lifts to children on the tractor, as someday you could be like Pat and it might not be a near miss. I know it’s great to have kids out helping on the farm, but make sure they have a safe place to play and when they are with you, you should know where they are.
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