Busy harvest season presents extra dangers for farmers; local man injured in grain auger accident
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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
Last week, as proclaimed by Illinois Farm Bureau and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS), was National Farm Safety and Health Week.
2019 data for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the agricultural sector is remains the most dangerous industry in America with 573 fatalities – or an equivalent of 23.1 deaths per 100,000 workers.
Fall harvest time can be one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons of the year for the agriculture industry. For this reason, the third week of September is recognized as National Farm Safety and Health Week.
Pike-Scott Farm Bureau Executive Director cautioned farmers to be mindful of the extra dangers presented by the fall harvest season.
“You’ve got to take your time,” Roderick said. “Get your rest in, and be careful.”
The rush to get crops harvested, Roderick said, leads some farmers to forgo safety precautions that that they would otherwise take.
“You get into it, and you can forget everything you’ve ever learned about safety and avoiding accidents,” Roderick said.
The need for extra caution on the part of farmers during fall harvest was brought into sharp focus locally last week, when Bloomfield farmer Robert Boester was entangled in an auger during harvest.
Grain augers are used during harvest to put grain into grain bins for storage and to transfer grain into trucks and wagons to take to market.
A grain auger is a tube containing a solid shaft in the center with flighting on it. Flighting is a spiral of flat steel that is welded onto the center shaft. As the center shaft turns in a clockwise direction, the flighting pulls the grain in and pushes it up the shaft.
Unfortunately, auger entanglements and injuries are not uncommon because of rapidly moving mechanical parts. Auger entanglements can result in broken bones, loss of limbs and even death.
“These accidents involving high speed machinery happen before you know it,” Roderick said. “You don’t have time to react.”
According to guidance published by Pennsylvania State University (PSU) Extension, a key to avoiding auger entanglement accidents is to ensure that augers, and Power Take Offs used to power augers, are equipped with adequate guards. In addition, according to the PSU-published guide, guards should be free of holes, dents, or deformations which can decrease effectiveness.
Following the injury to Boester, neighboring farmers were gathered by Scott County Sheriff Tommy Eddinger on Saturday, Sept. 25, to complete the harvest of Boester’s crops.
Boester’s family is seeking community assistance to cover medical expenses associated with the accident. Boester is on Medicare with no supplemental health insurance provider.
For more information on how to help the family, contact Carolyn Boester at 217-461-1401 or Kenneth Boester at 217-730-1770.
For more information about National Farm Safety and Health Week, and farm safety in general, visit www.necasag.org.
Roderick also stressed the importance of residents being mindful while driving on rural roads to avoid accidents with slow moving farm equipment.
“People need to be extra cautious this time of year, especially while they’re driving,” Roderick said