In The Shop: A Tough Way To Be Remembered

Published on: 11:03AM Dec 18, 2010

 Good things can come from tragedies. More than 30 years ago a neighbor was killed when he was crushed under a corn head. Richard was working under the corn head, and hadn't lowered the safety stop. He somehow broke off a hydraulic fitting to one of the corn head lift cylinders. Death was nearly instantaneous.

I cannot crawl underneath a piece of equipment, let alone a corn head, without thinking of Richard. I'm impressed by the number of times when I'm on farms working on equipment and take a moment to lower a safety stop, that the farmer mentions Richard's accident. Farmers in this region who never met him remember hearing of the accident, and to this day it inspires them to take an extra few seconds to possibly prevent a replay.

Yet we still gamble when working on equipment. We use a tractor loader, skid steer or forklift as a scaffold, or to lift or support a frame while we work beneath it, using hand-me-down chains that were already stretched when our grandfather bought them at a farm sale. We build stacks of wobbly wooden blocks to support a piece of equipment, promising ourselves we'll, "...stay over here on the "high" side where it won't get me if it falls." I'm most guilty of jacking up a piece of equipment then working on it without putting jackstands or blocks in place to support it, if the jack suddenly fails or slips.

We're aware of the dangers. We're just in too much of a hurry, don't have the exact blocking or jacks necessary, or have some other excuse. With luck we won't become an example for other farmers of what not to do. That's certainly not the reason I want to be remembered in this region.