Plan Out Farm Safety

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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A sweep auger can be a useful tool to clean out bins, but it is also dangerous and can lead to a farm accident in a split second. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo by Hal Maggiore)

Writing about farm safety is something I do because, like most of us who worked or lived on a farm, we have all had our close calls with getting hurt. In some cases, we were not as fortunate and actually had a farm accident.

I would be in this boat. Almost 18 years ago, I climbed a ladder on the farm. The ladder slid off the building it was against as I was just a few feet off the ground. I fell and broke both of my wrists.

I lived by myself at the time (my wife is glad she missed out on this episode of my life) and I had to get into the house to the house phone to dial 911. Once I got inside, I realized I couldn't use my hands to dial the phone, so I had to do this with my tongue.

I spent the next couple of months in casts on both arms after having wrist surgery, in which a metal plate was put in my left wrist. I then had physical therapy for probably about a similar amount of time after the casts came off.

Compared to many farm-related injuries, my accident was fairly minor. People get entangled in PTOs, buried by flowing grain and attacked by livestock and are hurt much worse. Some do not survive.

Recently I listened to a webinar put on by North Dakota State University (NSDU) Extension and University of Minnesota (UMN) Extension about farm equipment safety. (…). It is actually part of a series of NDSU/UMN webinars about different topics in farm safety. (…)

Among the speakers in the farm equipment safety webinar was Scott and Elizabeth Huso, who own and operate Ridgeline Farms located in Aneta, North Dakota. They raise six different crops, have three full-time employees and three seasonal workers.

The Husos have a weekly safety meeting on their farm with their employees first thing Monday morning. The meeting has evolved over the years as Elizabeth has taken over this aspect of the farm's management.

"We try to recognize hazards beforehand and how to do things safely," Scott Huso said. "We want to prevent injuries."

Elizabeth spends quite a bit of time researching various aspects of farm safety and then shares with she finds with their employees, he said. Most of their meetings are simple discussions, but they have a more formal meeting once a month. In addition, they also have a larger safety meeting twice a year -- in spring and fall -- as those busy times of the year begin.

The benefits for everyone is to learn how to do a task the safe way. In addition, they discuss what personal protection equipment (PPE) their workers like so they will use the safety equipment.

"We bought an automated external defibrillator (AED) and have trained all of our employees on how to use it," Elizabeth Huso said.

Despite the best plans, sometimes accidents still occur. This is what happened to the Husos.

Chase Frederick, who is an employee of the Husos, was helping to clean out a bin in Dec. 2018 and become entangled in the sweep auger.

He sustained serious injuries and was rushed to a local hospital. He broke his left ankle, dislocated both his knees, and cut up his legs. He had to have skin grafts and he had to relearn how to walk.

After being in the hospital for two months, he then endured two months of rehabilitation. Despite the injuries, Frederick considers himself lucky to survive, recover and work again after the accident.

"It can happen in a split second, you just need to think about the job you are doing and what can happen," Frederick said in the webinar.

I am not expert but here is my theory on why farm accidents happen. When you do the same thing over and over again for literally many years you somewhat lose the ability to see how dangerous the task really is.

I know this was the case with me as I had been up and down on a ladder probably a million times in my life and nothing happened. I should have probably checked to make sure the ladder wouldn't slide off the building I put it against, but I didn't.

So, as you read this blog, please think about the task you are doing and remember the possible hazards associated with this task. It can only take a second of not concentrating for an accident to occur.

Russ Quinn can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN


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