Let’s all take a moment to confess our less-than-safe bad habits — sending a quick text while driving, donning only the minimum of safety gear while mixing chemical or giving the wee ones a ride on the tractor or quad, even if there isn’t a seat for them.
Are all of these excusable because, hey, we need to get things done, right?
As adults, we know the risks, both to our health and our safety (and possibly driving record) and so must deal with the consequences ourselves, but children love tractor rides, adorable (and large) farm animals and zippy machines that go zoom. What’s the harm in including them in the daily life of the farm?
What brought on this discussion? The Ontario provincial campaign trail got only a little ridiculous yesterday when current premier and agriculture minister Kathleen Wynne drove a tractor as a photo op — with a farmer along for the ride on the open-air model, propped up on the step to help Wynne navigate. Is this OK or a bad example?
The Ontario PC party called Wynne out on it, saying she was exhibiting poor tractor driving safety. Many on twitter and through comments figuratively rolled their eyes at the remarks, saying that this is reality on the farm and to get over it.
TRACTOR SAFETY: THE TERRIFYING ISSUE THAT WON’T DIE ON ONTARIO CAMPAIGN TRAIL. #onpoli
— Warren Kinsella (@kinsellawarren) May 20, 2014
The remarks got me thinking about farm safety. The campaign trail aside (was it poor judgement? Likely. But how do you learn to drive a tractor if no one shows you how?), I reached out to some very busy farming mamas I know to ask them how they handle the reality of farming with the reality of the risks of farming.
The common theme between all of the women I interviewed was that there was, in fact, clear communication of the rules — designated areas of play, pens that were a no-go no matter what, and even the rule of wearing bright colours in the farm yard for added visibility. I asked about tractor rides — heck, I love a good tractor ride — and the consensus was cabbed tractors were OK (even if there were one or two more than the buddy seat could handle), but open-air cabs were a no-go. ATVs and the like were a gray area. Helmets yes, but extra riders were common for rides.
What do you do on your farm? What rules are hard and fast and which ones get bent in order to get a job done?
For more on farm safety, including great resources, click here for the Canadian Ag Safety Association’s website.