Our view: Safety first with harvest

Working on Illinois farms was a safer proposition in 2011, according to a survey by Country Financial.

Although 20 people lost their lives in farm-related accidents last year, that number is quite a decline from the 39 deaths in 2010.

During National Farm Safety and Health Week, a review of last year’s improved statistics is in order.

Tractor rollovers and run-overs accounted for eight deaths. Seven people were killed in roadway collisions. Three died in electrocutions. One person suffocated in a grain bin.

One farm-related death was not classified, which probably refers to the heat-related death of a Mexican migrant worker as he detasseled corn near Tampico.

The reduction in grain bin deaths (10 were killed the previous year) was attributed to several factors. Stored corn was dry, which made grain handling safer. Also, an all-out safety campaign by the Grain Handling Safety Coalition likely had an effect. The safety project was begun after two Carroll County teens suffocated in a grain bin in 2010.

Harvest time means that farmers, family members and farm workers will be traveling to and from fields with combines, tractors, trucks, wagons and other large pieces of equipment. Such machinery should be marked with slow-moving-vehicle emblems while on roadways.

Farmers and motorists must exercise extra care when they share the road.

As farmers move equipment, they should be aware of the locations of other workers and family members.

For motorists, here are a few tips from the farm bureau:

• When you see a slow-moving vehicle, slow down.

• If you have to pass, do so with extreme caution and only when you know it is safe to do so.

• Be patient. A farmer can’t always move over to let motorists pass. If you can’t see the driver, the driver can’t see you.

An accident-free harvest season should be everyone’s goal.

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