JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Farming and ranching jobs have one of the highest on-the-job death rates and injuries in America.
ASU Department of Agriculture students are teaming up with Farm Bureau to provide safety education for farmers and farm workers.
ASU farm worker Thomas Lenderman sat on a home-made piece of machinery on the farm. The hundreds of sharpened steel triangles looked menacing even with the roller not moving. Lenderman had just demonstrated for me an unsafe practice of getting between a moving tractor which is pulling an implement.
Lenderman says he had a close call in high school doing the same thing. "When I jumped up on the tractor my hat blew off and the disc ran it over and it could have very easily been me."
It's a common practice on a farm, but stumble in a field and a severe injury or death could be the result.
To prevent accidents like that from happening, ASU's Ag Education Program did demonstrations Thursday afternoon. A student like Senior Lucas Anderson says many are unaware of how dangerous a farm can be. "You know so many people get hurt every year in farm accidents involving tractors and equipment." Anderson said. "We wanted to see if we can prevent a little of that."
Junior Cody Cornett says a lot of ag-related accidents occur because people become complacent. "If you grow up on a farm you become used to it, you don't think about all the things that you do that you are not supposed to do." Cornett says even though newer equipment has many safety devices, "You spend a lot of time driving a tractor you don't think how important the roll over or seat belt is."
Cornett says it's really a mindset."You're always around something that's loud, it's heavy. You've got PTO shafts spinning around. There's nothing about it that's safe unless you make it. Everything has a potential to be extremely dangerous."
One demonstration involved a straw filled dummy getting caught in a spinning tractor power take off. The dummies clothing wadded up, and then it exploded in a shower of straw and shredded clothing.
A zero-turn lawn mower tossed farm worker Nicole Nichols, but she had no experience on how to operate the machine and wasn't wearing her seat belt. She does now. "First day I was put on the zero-turn and it ended up sliding into a ditch and flipping over backwards within 30 minutes." She did hit her head on a fence but suffered no major injuries.
Even a small auger rotates at 1800 RPM, and has the potential to rip fingers, feet, or even an arm off a careless operator.
Other demonstrations included driving over a ketchup bottle to simulate getting a foot under a tractor wheel, and another was driving too fast with a hay bale spear up too high.
The students hope demonstrations like these will help lessen the common mistakes that can occur on a regular basis. Anderson, "We just want people to be aware of easy common accidents and easy ways to prevent it from happening."