Farm Safety Takes Caution and Experience

Pay attention and practice prevention to keep yourself secure while doing farm work.

| December 2018 / January 2019

  • Operating a tractor in snow takes skill, which requires practice to build. Experience will teach you what’s safe and what’s dangerous.
    Photo by Adobe/Dusan Kostic
  • When cutting wood, use proper protection and a well-maintained chainsaw, and go slowly.
    Photo by Adobe/Kadmy
  • To avoid fires, use extension cords and LED lanterns to illuminate your barn at night.
    Photo by Adobe/MP2

Farmers have one of the highest rates of workplace accidents. As an older farmer, I have battle scars that put me in that statistical column. I write from personal experience with farm accidents, both mine and others’.

Some 20 years ago, a farmer friend died in an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rollover while he was out in his pasture checking cows. I’ve ridden ATVs for many years, and just this spring, as I was riding slowly through some tall grass to check the cows, my ATV tipped on its side and pinned my leg underneath. Fortunately, my cellphone summoned help. I could’ve become another statistic.

My worst farm accident happened while I was cutting firewood. You know the saying: “There are old loggers, and bold loggers, but no old, bold loggers.” I cut a midsized tree, perhaps a foot in diameter, but didn’t step away fast enough as it fell. It fell right onto an old stump, which kicked the butt up and whacked me in the face. It gave me a concussion, knocked out two of my teeth, and hamburgered my lip and jaw. It was a close call. To this day, I don’t know why anyone would engage in boxing. That hit to the face was enough for me.

Then, I lost the tip of my right pinky when adjusting the chute on a square baler. It buckled as I adjusted the support chains, and it pinched off the fatty tip of my finger. That injury doesn’t bother me, but the shorter finger can make typing difficult.



One of my earliest sets of stitches came from a chainsaw accident. Running an old-style 1960s McCulloch with those early bulbous bars, I had a kickback incident, and the chainsaw sliced into my shoulder. I knew I’d been cut, but I didn’t look at it until I got to the house. I went in and asked Teresa to get a bandage so I could go out and finish — I was in a hurry because we were leaving the next day on a trip.

When I finally looked at it, I nearly fainted. Peering at my own white meat through that deep incision wasn’t too appetizing. We learned something that day: When you walk into an emergency room and say “chainsaw,” they don’t make you wait. It was just bad enough to scare the living daylights out of me, but not bad enough to hit any tendons or bone.





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