Farming and ranching are among the most dangerous occupations in the Midwest, if not the country. According to AgInjuryNews.org, there have been nearly 300 reported agricultural accidents, injuries or fatalities in North Dakota and Minnesota, combined, since 2016. However, with proper safety measures in place, many accidents could have been avoided.
“We’re always in a hurry,” says Angie Johnson, NDSU Extension agent and farm and ranch safety program coordinator. “Mother Nature has us racing against the clock to get tasks done. When we’re rushed, we increase our chances of making a mistake, and that’s when accidents will happen.”
North Dakota State University Extension and University of Minnesota Extension have partnered to provide farm safety webinars to producers. The free, one-hour series will feature different topics on Thursdays at 11 a.m. from Jan. 21 through March 18.
“We haven’t even had our first webinar yet and it seems like it’s been a hit,” said Johnson about the response to the upcoming webinars. “People are excited that we are even having a conversation around safety. So many communities have lost loved ones or have been impacted by somebody they care about.”
The first webinar of the series will be on grain bin safety, a topic top-of-mind as of late.
Rich Schock, captain of the Sheyenne Valley Technical Rescue Team in Kindred, N.D. will be a featured panelist.
“(Schock) has been through some very scary rescues. It’s time to start having that conversation about ‘How much is that grain really worth to you?’” Johnson said. “We know that it’s got to go and get out of the bin, but does that mean risking your life to get it out? As humans, we kind of push the envelope. If we’ve tried something before and nothing bad happened, and it worked, we’ll do it again. We’re not afraid to take that risk when it comes to getting crusted grain out. But the one time where the grain becomes loose and collapses down, that’s when we have an accident happen.”
Tractor and equipment safety on Feb. 4 will be followed by a webinar on youth safety on Feb. 18.
Johnson says that webinar will focus on making sure that the youth helping on the farm are mentally ready and prepared to take on some of the really big responsibilities that, as a producer, we take for granted.
“We think it might be pretty easy to move that tractor or drive that truck, or move equipment around the farm, but have we taken the time to really teach our youth how to operate some of that equipment and machinery. Are they mentally ready to take it on?” Johnson said.
Livestock safety and mental health will be the final webinars on March 4 and March 18, respectively.
“We want awareness. We want producers and ranchers to start realizing that if you’re not taking care of yourself, how can you take care of your farm and ranch? Take the time to teach yourself, and your employees,” Johnson said. “The farm can’t be successful if you’re not there. At the end of the day, the goal is to come home each night and be with the ones you love.”
Visit z.umn.edu/FarmSafetyWebinars to preregister. Preregistration is required.