Authors: Carol Lehtola, Ph.D. and Charles M. Brown. Original Document
Like crops themselves, teaching agricultural safety has its seasons. Over a career, one might see periods when national and local awareness and support of agricultural safety programs are high: times when parents, producers, and employees want more programs in the school or in the workplace. Then there are times when the focus shifts to other topics, and it’s easy for people to think that we’ve “taken care of” agricultural safety. Until the next local incident shocks us back into awareness.
Unlike our human focus, the hazards themselves never take a break. The range of hazards in the agricultural workplace that result from daily exposure to powerful machines and chemicals, from the repetitive day-in, day-out activity, from the stress of second guessing the crops, the weather, the pests… Agricultural workers must face these hazards every day.
Agricultural hazards take a heavy toll – agriculture remains one of the most dangerous occupations – yet, it rarely makes the front page. Instead of the dramatic incident in which dozens are killed or injured – incidents that make it into the newspapers and onto television, incidents that mobilize resources – agricultural losses are a steady drip, drip, drip – a tractor overturn here, a confined space injury there, an unfortunate encounter with a bull or horse… it adds up, and almost every farm family has these stories to tell.
Safety educators must work constantly to inform agricultural producers, their families, and their employees both when safety is “popular” and when it is not. In addition to this, at the college level, we must work to prove the relevance of agricultural safety courses and raise the next crop of safety educators and safety advocates. Our hope is the materials in this book will motivate and facilitate the teaching of agricultural safety at the college level and be the seeds of that crop.
The hazards never take a break, and neither must we.