Production Blog

Safety Is a Full-Time Job

Pamela Smith
By  Pamela Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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Stay alert to thoughts of safety because every farmer matters. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- My mother likes to tell the tale of when I went missing during my terrible twos. After desperately searching our farmhouse, she happened to look outside and spot a gate open to the sheep pen. She ran outside to witness the exact instant a Southdown ram lowered his head and sent me skyward.

It should have been a clue, because life has been a series of close calls and lucky escapes ever since. Like most of us of a certain age, we can reflect back on our farming childhoods and wonder how we ever survived bouncing down the road on the back of a truck endgate or riding for hours on end perched on the fender of a John Deere 4020.

I believe in miracles because, as a teen, I lived through poisonous gases in a confinement hog building. It's a long story, but I found the power cut to our confinement hog buildings and I entered the building. I was knocked to the ground by the gas and managed to crawl along the floor to safety. I lived, but 485 head of finished hogs died that day.

Across the years, my father tumbled from a grain bin and shattered a leg. In a separate incident, his wedding ring caught when he jumped from a two-ton truck. Other family members have experienced tractor roll overs and anhydrous accidents. We've fallen, step off and been sucked into places. Several of us have noise-induced hearing losses.

My family wasn't and isn't lacking in safety awareness, by any means. I remember lectures about everything from PTOs to rabid raccoons. Don't get me started on the punishment for getting caught going alone to the farm pond when I was a child. I'm still scared of what monsters live there.

As pastoral and wonderful as the farm can be, almost anyone who has spent time there knows hazards abound. Sept. 20-26, 2020, is National Farm Safety and Health Week with the theme this year being "Every Farmer Counts." AgriSafe Network is hosting nine free webinars during the week, including one titled "Planting Seeds of Tractor and Machinery Safety." (See them at…)

DTN Staff Reporter Russ Quinn wrote about those efforts:….

This year the words "be safe" have become almost cliche in this time of Coronavirus. Everyone is saying it.

We need that same kind of buy-in on farm safety. We still lose too many farmers and farm family members. We still have too many close calls.

But, here's the good news -- the list of improvements to our way of life are also vast. I made a safety-related list of I'm thankful for (in no particular order):

-- Dust masks and respirators

-- Cellphones

-- Grain bin rescue tubes

-- Harnesses and no bin entry rules

-- Better hearing protection

-- Back up cameras on equipment

-- Tractor cabs

-- Rollover bars

-- More flashing lights and better headlights

-- More lighting around bins and farmstead

-- Steps on grain bins

-- Steps on pickup beds

-- Double seats in pickups to avoid riding in the bed

-- Chainsaw chaps

-- Reflective clothing

-- Silicone wedding bands

-- PPE equipment for mixing chemicals

-- Better steps to dismount tractors, sprayers and combines

-- Fire extinguishers on equipment

-- EPI pens

-- Automatic generators in confinement facilities

-- Rural first responders

What would you add to this list? Are you utilizing the safety tools at your disposal? Have you disabled a safety device or think it isn't worth replacing?

Farm safety has long been a commitment for DTN/Progressive Farmer. The Progressive Agriculture Safety Day program, which is now part of a stand-alone foundation, is in its 26th year of providing age-appropriate, hands-on events for children 4 to 13 on topics affecting safety and rural communities. Learn where events are being held at This year, many sessions are being held virtually.

Read more about the thoughts of our View From the Cab farmers on farm safety….

And, be safe out there.

Pamela Smith can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN


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