Safety must be top priority as spring farm season arrives

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of a Norton, Kansas, high school sophomore, Thunder Linner, who was killed in a farm accident Monday.

Officials haven’t released many details, other than saying he died using farming equipment while doing chores on the family farm.

Farm accidents are far too common, with more than 700 farmers killed each year, 120,000 injured and 100 children killed annually.

Public awareness is important, but so is training.

Along those lines, the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health in the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health is providing a tractor safety course, May through July in McCook and 11 other towns across Nebraska.

In partnership with Nebraska Extension, the course provides extensive training on tractor and all-terrain vehicles safety, with a variety of hands-on activities.

The course is $60 and includes educational materials and instruction, supplies and lunch.

Overturned tractors and ATVs are the most common cause of agricultural-related deaths in Nebraska, according to Susan Harris-Broomfield, University of Nebraska Extension Educator for Kearney and Franklin counties.

Federal law prohibits children under 16 years of age from using certain equipment on a farm unless their parents or legal guardians own the farm. However, certification received through the course grants an exemption to the law, allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and to do field work with certain mechanized equipment.

The first day of class will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program, hands-on participation, concluding with a written test, which students must pass to attend the second day of training.

The second day of training will include a driving test and equipment operation and ATV safety lessons. Classes begin at 8 a.m. both days.

Students will demonstrate competence in hitching and unhitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer through a standardized course. The ATV simulator will be at most sites and will demonstrate experience about safe behavior and laws for ATVs and utility-task vehicles (UTVs).

McCook’s session is set for June 5, at the Red Willow County Fairgrounds. The first day of the two-day class is online. Call (308) 345-3390 for more information. The registration form can be found at kearney.unl.edu

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