While the recent heavy rains are slowing down many Iowa farmers in the mud, spring planting season is underway in the Hawkeye State. The Iowa Farm Bureau is urging growers to make safety a top priority. Bureau spokesman Aaron Putze has a few suggestions for how farmers can make their properties and equipment more safe. Putze says all machinery needs to carry that bright orange triangle to signify a slow moving vehicle. He says shields like those that cover the power take off or P-T-O drives need to be in place and secure. Farm tractors should also be equipped with bypass starter covers. Without the covers, tractor operators may attempt to jump start a farm tractor if the battery is dead. If the tractor is in gear, it could lurch forward and run over the operator or bystanders.To enhance safety for children, those under the age of 14 should never be allowed to drive tractors. “No Rider” decals should also be posted on tractors and passengers should not be allowed even in a cab or back of a pickup truck. Also, children should be supervised when playing or helping with planting activities. Statistics show that leaving a child alone for even a few minutes can result in tragedy. Studies find nearly 700 farmers are killed nationwide each year in work-related accidents and more than 120-thousand ag workers suffer disabling injuries. Putze says farming is a potentially-deadly profession. Farming is second only to the profession of mining as far as its level of danger. The National Center for Health Statistics reports nearly 22-hundred children died of unintentional injuries on the farm between 1982 and 1996, including 107 in Iowa. Farm machinery-related accidents were the leading cause of death, accounting for 36 percent of the fatalities.
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