published Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Workshop to focus on farm safety at Walker County, Ga., Agricultural Center

A cardinal rule of gun safety is to never aim at anything you don't intend to shoot — even if you know the gun's unloaded.

University of Georgia professor Glen Rains has a similar rule when he teaches farm safety workshops around the state.

Rains advises farmers never to step over a tractor power take-off, the driveline near the rear axle that powers farm implements.

"It's always: Don't step over it," Rains said. "You just don't do it."

Even if the power take-off isn't engaged and spinning, he said, it's key to form the habit of giving it a wide berth.

Rains will offer farm safety advice at a Monday workshop at the Walker County, Ga., Agricultural Center in Rock Spring.

County agricultural extension agent Norman Edwards set up the training because of a spate of recent farming accidents in Walker County, including one involving a man who felt lucky to still be alive after being mangled in farm machinery.

"I felt this was a need," Edwards said.

Farming is neck-and-neck with mining as the most dangerous industrial occupation, Rains said.

"You work with a lot of dangerous equipment," he said.

Most farming fatalities are because of tractors and all-terrain vehicles rolling over, Rains said. Rollovers can occur when a farmer has a tractor front-loader raised high to carry hay in the field.

"It raises your center of gravity the higher you carry it," said Rains, who teaches farmers to drive slowly and keep the front-loader positioned low until it's time to drop off the hay.

Monday's workshop will be part lecture and part hands-on training with farm equipment that will be on-site, Edwards said.

"We've got quite a number of folks already signed up," he said.

The most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture census done in 2007 showed that Walker County had 538 farmers.

"Probably most of them are in the cattle business," he said.

A umber of Walker County farmers grow row crops, he said, including soybeans, corn and wheat that they truck to grain elevators in Calhoun, Ga., and in Alabama.

"A lot of our farmers are part-time farmers," Edwards said. "They have a day job and do some farming on the side."

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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