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Tune up your safety skills before harvest

The most extraordinary safety forum ever comes to life on Thursday, Sept. 16, at the Beck Ag Center. It’s located at the Purdue University Agronomic Research Center north of West Lafayette.

Two things make this forum unique, notes Bill Field, Purdue Extension ag engineer and safety specialist. “First, the emphasis is on show and tell, not talk and tell,” he says. “We intend to do several demonstrations during the day that tell the safety message by themselves.

“Second, we have a separate program running through the day for rural youth. We’re targeting FFA chapters in the area, but everyone is welcome.”

Key Points

• Think about safety as harvest begins in earnest.

• See live safety demonstrations at the Safety Forum at the Beck Ag Center.

• FFA chapters that attend can get financial help to cover their mileage.

Demos planned

The event is co-sponsored by the Indiana Rural Safety and Health Council and Purdue. Held close to National Farm Safety Week for the past decade, except for one year, the safety forum is designed to help farm families focus on safety before the harvest season begins. This year, however, harvest will likely already be under way across much of Indiana and in full swing in southwest Indiana. That’s a complete reversal from one year ago, when cool temperatures delayed harvest and made it one of the latest in 35 years. This fall could be one of the earliest harvest seasons in some time, especially for those who were able to get crops planted in mid-April before spring rains intensified.

Demonstrations will include tips on anhydrous ammonia safety and handling, using actual anhydrous ammonia. “That’s one advantage of doing the forum here instead of at a hotel or resort setting,” Field explains. “We can show what we’re talking about instead of just describe it or show pictures of it.”

There will also be electrical safety demonstrations. A rash of people, including farmers, tangling with power lines this summer has power companies anxious to remind farmers to know when they’re getting close to overhead lines and guide wires, and to avoid making contact with them.

Youth activities

A dozen or so FFA chapters closest to the forum site will receive special invitations to bring a busload of students. But Field stresses that any FFA chapter or other youth organization from anywhere in Indiana is welcome to attend. The Indiana Rural Safety and Health Council will provide up to $100 per chapter to help cover bus transportation costs.

Youth can compete in a tractor safety competition, plus test their skills against flowing grain in a grain hazards simulator. Similar youth activities were held at a previous forum at the Indiana FFA Leadership Center near Trafalgar.

Results of last year’s farm fatality summary will be released during the morning. One highlight planned for the afternoon is the arrival of a lifeline helicopter at the agronomy farm, Field says. He hopes to showcase technology that is available to speed up rescue efforts in rural areas should an accident occur.

The entire program is free. However, registration is required.

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Respect ammonia: Anhydrous ammonia is one of the most dangerous materials farmers handle.

This article published in the September, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.