Monsanto is a proud sponsor of NECAS’s National Farm Safety and Health Week, September 21-27. As a part of it, Monsanto employees are sharing why safety in agriculture is important. For more farm safety information, check out the Growing Safely video series on the Monsanto YouTube Channel here.
By Ken Mathias
I lead Monsanto’s North America Environmental Safety and Health (ES&H) team. My team started attending the annual Farm Progress Show five years ago. Each year, it provides a great platform to discuss safety.
I always meet people who have a story to tell. I’ve met farmers missing a limb, and they share how the accident happened. Sometimes it was a hand or an arm caught in an auger or a leg that got wrapped up in an unguarded PTO (Power Take-off) shaft. When we showcased the Tug-O-War (a grain bin engulfment simulator) in 2011, people began to share stories about losing a loved one or knowing someone in their community who had lost their life to a grain bin engulfment.
We also use a farm tabletop display to show hazards on a farm. Each time we showcase the display, a parent or grandparent brings their kids or grandkids over and tells them to listen to what we have to say. The kids really like it.
The high school teenagers visit our tent primarily to see the free stuff we are giving out, but that allows us to start a dialogue. Drawing younger people into a conversation about safety is important. On average, 113 youth die annually from farm-related injuries.
Teens try the Tug-o-War to see how many pounds of force it takes to pull someone out of the grain bin or just to see which one of them is strongest. Either way, they walk away amazed at how many pounds it truly takes to pull someone out of grain engulfed up to their waist.
Sometimes the Driving Simulator also catches their interest. This tool gives them an opportunity to experience a simulated drive under various road conditions. They take a drive through town, or in the mountains, or even out on a country road and observe the hazards that take place. Sometimes, we encourage them pull out their cell phones and text while they are driving the course. This allows them to see that it is impossible to multitask and drive safely.
We also ask if they wear seatbelts when driving; most of them say they do. However, when asked if they wear a seatbelt when they are in the backseat, most of them say they don’t— especially the teenage boys. Many say they don’t because their state doesn’t require it, they ride in the country, or it’s just not cool. This allows us to share stories and statistics about fatalities resulting from not wearing a seat belt.
Why do we do this? Because agriculture is a high-hazard workforce. Monsanto is known for having a serious safety culture across our sites and organizations. We believe it’s equally important to take these safety messages to our customers and individuals within the communities where we live and work. This includes farm shows. Each year, I hope we reach a few more people and give them a better appreciation for their safety and the safety of those around them.