National Farm Safety Week 2019

Cheryl Skjolaas, Extension Agricultural Safety Specialist
Department of Biological Systems Engineering
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Total Time: 6:35

0:13 – Tractor and Rural Road Safety
1:25 – Accidents on the Farm
2:26 – Youth Safety on the Farm
3:56 – Women’s Safety on the Farm
4:56 – Tips for Harvest Season
5:47 – Information and Resources
6:07 – Lead Out



Adam Wigger: “National Farm Safety Week 2019.” We’re visiting today with Cheryl Skjolaas with the Center for Ag Safety and Health, University of Wisconsin Madison, Division of Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and I’m Adam Wigger. Cheryl, it is the end of National Farm Safety Week – we’ve covered topics like tractor safety and rural road safety. Do you want to just quickly touch on that?

Cheryl Skjolaas: You know as we head into the fall harvest season and that’s really the intent behind having it this week in September, is you know bringing that attention as our harvest season starts. So with tractor and road safety they’re always going to be a leading topic in the farm safety area. Our biggest thing is there are areas that we see, you know, the greatest use of those tractors and remembering, you know, when you’re out there, if your tractor has a rops to, it to wear your seatbelt so you get that maximum protection when you’re using that tractor and also remembering that whoever you have as an operator has proper training. The roadway safety, a big thing is still being visible, you know, so check the current lighting and marking regulations here in Wisconsin so that you have the right lights and flashers and tape and been visible using the road properly. It’s a huge thing as you’re out traveling the highways during harvest.

Adam Wigger: Absolutely. I gather though that most accidents with farm related equipment happen on the farm and not on the roadway. Do you want to touch on that and maybe some safety tips while working on the farm?

Cheryl Skjolaas: So a lot of our incidents do happen, you know, on that farm, out in the field, you know, machinery at this time of year, you know, we’re out there in that field for long hours we don’t know what Mother Nature is going to toss us for weather conditions. So if something breaks down mechanically that’s really where we see a lot of those accidents happening. And one of the biggest things is just to be sure the power is off before you try to do any repair or maintenance to machinery. You know if that auger isn’t running, if that conveyor belt isn’t going, if those gears aren’t moving, you know you can’t get caught in that piece of the machinery so you know that’s our one big thing is being sure that that power is off on that machinery.

Adam Wigger: Absolutely. Wednesday this week was safety and health for youth in agriculture. Do you have any specific tips for kids working on the farms or other youth activities?

Cheryl Skjolaas: You know our youth issues really break down to a couple of different factors for those younger youth that you know they’re mobile, they’re out around. Riding on that tractor and that combine is a fun thing to do and they run out to meet you know whoever’s operating it – thinking “can I get a ride.” Or they play in or around it and we don’t see them because they’re small. So really looking at, you know, how can you help keep those kids out of those work areas when it’s not that time that that you want them to be in those spaces or being able to come out into the yard. So having play zones versus being in the work zone. And then as those youth get to the age that they’re actually operating equipment really having that training for them covering the basics as they go out to work you know if you assign them a new task being sure you break down how they need to do that task because it takes a lot to learn a lot of that work that they’re going to be doing. And so we see an increase in injuries to those first time workers across industries. So it’s the same in agriculture. So if you have a youth that’s now starting to work doing those tasks, train them and also supervise them.

Adam Wigger: Friday this week was safety and health for women in agriculture. Do you have any specific tips or tricks for women operating machinery, working this industrial farm life?

Cheryl Skjolaas: You know I think one of the good parts of that industrial farm life is you know we do have that machinery to be able to help us. And so you know from a woman’s side of things some of the ergonomic factors – “do I fit this well? Is it adjusted well? Does that tool work for me?” But otherwise it’s a lot of the same type of of considerations. One of the reasons you know the women operators we’re seeing an increase in women operators and so a number of them are coming into new areas where they might not have that mechanical background. So getting to know a good mechanic that can help you with that equipment, selecting their equipment based on fitting you and its safety features those are going to be key things that are going to help those women, you know, start to work and and stay productive is using that machinery.

Adam Wigger: Yeah! Do you have any other safety tips or tricks as we’re moving into harvest season?

Cheryl Skjolaas: I think as we move into harvest season our biggest thing is, you know, every week is Farm Safety Week. Every day is Farm Safety Week. And if those stresses start to build, if you find yourself having you know issues because the harvest season is getting hard and just like our spring planting time, you know, reach out and talk to somebody, you know, there’s going to be other people in the same situation don’t let those frustrations build on you. And when something goes wrong you know just take a pause, you know, don’t try to hurry up and get it done or get in there and then taking some shortcut that ends up leading to an injury.

Adam Wigger: Absolutely. Where can we find more resources on farm safety?

Cheryl Skjolaas: So you can go to to get to the University Center for ag safety and health information.

Adam Wigger: Perfect! As a recap, National Farm Safety Week was September 16th through the 20th where we had tractor safety and rural roadway safety, farming health and opioids suicide prevention, safety and health for youth, confined spaces in agriculture, and safety and health for women in agriculture. Thank you so much Cheryl. We’ve been visiting today with Cheryl Skjolaas with the Center for Ag Safety, University of Wisconsin Madison, Division of Extension, and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Adam Wigger.

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