Hafer to present farm and ranch safety at MATE
Accidents do happen, but some can be prevented. Farm and ranch safety isn’t a topic on the forefront of most ranchers minds, but that is something that Jim Hafer, professor of Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at Chief Dull Knife College, hopes to challenge at the MATE show with his booth focusing on safety education for youth in production agriculture.
“It’s an extremely difficult topic because unless you’ve had somebody that’s been in harm’s way or has been subjected to an injury, you really don’t think that much about it,” Hafer says.
The booth will feature Purdue University’s Gearing Up For Safety program that Hafer helped pilot. The program consists of a full curriculum covering 15 lessons that include teaching aids, supplemental information and review questions geared towards youth ages 12 to 19, but Hafer has seen parents use the curriculum on ages younger than 12 and employers use it for ages over 19.
“We’re finding some folks that are getting people that come to them for summer internships or even new hires that are not off the farm and don’t have an ag background so this is an outlet where they can pick and choose from the curriculum what lessons might fit the job,” Hafer says. “It’s a complete curriculum for anybody who wants it.”
The material has proven successful with ag instructors and 4-H extension agents.
“It used to be so hard to find materials that were worth while to use, and this comes with PowerPoints, word banks, quizzes, all that is available at their fingertips now,” Hafer says.
The curriculum covers safety related to tractor and heavy equipment, operating equipment on roads, repairing equipment, ATVs and UTVs, skid steer and forklift operating, confined spaces, grain storage and animals, as well as first aid and emergency response.
According to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, a child dies in an agricultural-related incident about every three days and from 2001 to 2015, almost half of all fatal injuries to young workers occurred in agriculture with transportation incidents being the most common fatal event with tractors and ATVs or UTVs as the primary vehicle sources.
“There is some data out there when you look at Native American populations being twice the average as far as incidents. There’s accidents every year here in Montana, Billings in particular, making national news,” Hafer says.
The curriculum is free of cost to anyone interested in using it, as it is funded by a grant from the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, Education and Workforce Development program. Additionally, the curriculum meets federal requirements to certify 14 and 15 year-old youth to be employed by non-family members to complete certain hazardous production agriculture related tasks.
The curriculum is available online now for anyone interested in more information, or they can visit with Jim Hafer at the MATE show.
“We hope that making it convenient, if they have the thumb drive or, again it’s on the World Wide Web and we can just pull it up, that you can go and use that in its entirety or just lesson by lesson,” Hafer says. “Having taught high school ag for 10 years, I know what it’s like timewise to try to put together a cohesive lecture on these topics, well it’s at your fingertips now.”
Hafer’s booth will be at the main show for the full duration of the MATE show.
“We’ll have a Jeopardy game that’s been a lot of fun, we’ve got regular brochures, materials, thumb drives, cards and I’ll be there to answer questions,” Hafer says. “There’s an awful lot of folks that we have the opportunity to speak with, and almost all of them when you visit with them can find instances where they know or have an immediate family member or friend who has been affected by an ag safety issue. Everybody’s got a story and unfortunately you don’t know about that story until the topics on screen.”