Farmers urged to follow safe practices

Bruce Schultz, Hebert, Blair J., Flanagan, Jimmy W.

News Release Distributed 04/16/15

JEANERETTE, La. – Farmers were urged to be more mindful of protecting themselves from harm on the job at an LSU AgCenter farm safety meeting held Wednesday (April 15).

More than 125 farmers and farm workers from Vermilion, Iberia and St. Mary parishes attended the session.

Blair Hebert, LSU AgCenter county agent in Iberia Parish, said farming is one of the most hazardous occupations in the U.S. He said 375 people died working on U.S. farms in 2012, and overturned tractors have been the leading cause of accidental deaths.

An accident occurs in a split-second, Hebert said. “It can change your life forever.”

Three local farmers have died recently in accidents, said Jimmy Flanagan, LSU AgCenter county agent in St. Mary Parish.

The fatalities could have been prevented, he said. “A lapse in judgment cost them their lives.”

Most farmers know what they should do to work safely, Flanagan said. “But when we get tired and rushed, we take chances.”

Two men in the area were severely injured recently while repairing a tire, he said, and a Baton Rouge hospital reports treating an injury related to a tire-repair accident roughly every 3 weeks.

Hebert said farm operators should take steps that include holding regular safety meetings and maintaining equipment. An injury is costly during a growing season and impairs efficiency. “When you lose a man, he’s not spraying and plowing or harvesting and doing what needs to be done.”

Flanagan said the power takeoff mechanism on a tractor is particularly dangerous, and it accounts for many farm-related injuries.

Flanagan also urged caution when working around power lines and when using a cable or chain to pull equipment out of the mud.

Also making presentations were representatives of Louisiana State Police to explain traffic laws for farm equipment on public roadways, a drug testing company to explain the safety hazards of drugs and alcohol, Operation Lifesaver to talk about rail crossing safety, a local fireman to talk about fire prevention and control, and electric and pipeline companies to discuss digging near utilities.

Hebert said final details are pending, but an agriculture burn certification workshop is planned for June 10 in Lafayette Parish.

Bruce Schultz
4/16/2015 9:10:14 PM
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