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FFA students get eye-opening lesson on safety

Pictures, scenarios illustrate important life-saving lessons


Capital Press

SPOKANE, Wash. -- If a picture is worth a thousand words, Tim Prickett told FFA members a lot about farm safety during a recent workshop.

"These are graphic pictures, and my intent is for you to come home with all of these things attached," Prickett said before showing a slide show of auger-related injuries that elicited gasps from the audience.

Nearly 600 Eastern Washington FFA students attended the safety session Feb. 3 at the Spokane Ag Expo.

Grain augers are the most dangerous machines on today's farm, according to Prickett, an Evergreen Implement sales representative in Moses Lake, Wash.

Prickett also talked about driving on highways with farm equipment.

"The general public does not understand anything about agricultural equipment," he said. "In our society today, everybody thinks when they are in their vehicle, they own that road."

The leading cause of death while driving farm equipment is rollovers, Prickett said.

Other dangers of working with machinery include pinch points, entanglement, sharp edges, crush points, lack of visibility, trauma and chemicals.

Prickett advised students to keep calm if they need to report an emergency. They should also know their location, including the block and unit of distance from the road.

When handling chemicals like anhydrous ammonia, Prickett recommended complete safety gear, including goggles, gloves and safety coveralls.

"I hate this stuff," he said of anhydrous ammonia. "It's one of the most dangerous chemicals out there."

Operation Lifesaver volunteer presenter Gary Friberg, of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway in Colbert, Wash., presented train safety precautions.

Friberg's tips involved not driving onto tracks or trying to outrun an oncoming train at a crossing.

It takes the average train, which weighs 12 million pounds, about a mile to stop.

"Trains stop, they just don't stop quickly," Friberg said.

Friberg compared a car running over a pop can to a train running over a car.

"You just became the pop can," Friberg said. "It's not a contest."

Pacific Northwest Farm Forum board member John Bartels said the program was intended to help students as they prepared for summer jobs.

"There's so many kids that operate machinery these days that don't get that safety education that they should," he said.

The FFA chapter in Lind, Wash., offers an annual safety class for students to receive a certified safety receipt. The students can bring the receipt to potential employers.

"It gives them an opportunity to at least make a farmer feel comfortable about hiring them, if they've attended a machinery safety (course)," Bartels said.

Bartels said the materials from Prickett and Friberg's presentation would be available to FFA advisers.

"I hope I didn't scare you too much," Prickett told the students in closing. "Well, I hope I scared you enough that you pay attention."


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