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Youth Safety on the Farm
Episode 91st July 2022 • AgriSafe Talking Total Farmer Health • AgriSafe
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Visit Cultivate Safety to learn more about youth injuries on the farm. View the Youth Work Guidelines too! Contact the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety here.

Learn more about AgriSafe's Invest In Your Health program.

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Script Arranged by Laura Siegel

Hosted by Carey Portell

Edited by Joel Sharpton

Special Guests: Chris Shivers and Marsha Salzwedel

Transcripts

Carey:

Welcome to the Talking Total Farmer Health podcast from AgriSafe Network. At AgriSafe, we work to protect the people that feed the world by supporting the health and safety professionals, ensuring access to preventative services for farm families and the agriculture community. Hi everyone, I am your host, Carey Portell, and today we are going to talk about youth safety in ag…. Now, this is a broad topic, and it is one that is important year-round. So, we are going to start off by talking to Chris Shivers, who will talk about two youth safety programs they have in Mississippi, and then we will end by talking to Marsha Salwedels, who will give us a comprehensive overview of important health and safety topics for youth in ag.Alright, so let us get started. Chris, thank you for joining us on the Talking Total Farmer Health Podcast! Can you go ahead and introduce yourself to our audience please?

Chris:

I am from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I grew up in a small town called Columbia, been with Farm Bureau about 24 years and work in the AG and safety field for 17, and as a safety specialist when Mississippi Farm Bureau and a few years ago, I got asked to come over to regional manager spot between Mantle Manage County activities, and help our farmers do what they need to do. And I am the past president of International Society for AG Safety and Health 2013 and 14.

Carey:

Wow! So, could you tell us a bit about some youth health and safety practices in your state?

Chris:

In Salford City, we do a lot of farm safety days educating our mostly fifth graders throughout my region about health and safety and agriculture in general. This generation is growing up now. You know, there is a fourth generation removed from the farm, and they learn about agriculture and learning about where their food comes from is of considerable importance. Another thing is you have these kids that. You know, grandma and grandpa have a farm, and mom and daddy worked in other jobs, and dad gets a tractor out there to do some stuff, mowing and trying to educate them about that piece of machinery, how you know the dangers that are involved and how they can get hurt. And you know, just ways to be careful out there on the farm.

Carey:

Yes, that is so important. It is not just kids who live on the farm that need to learn safety, but it is any kid in the community who might live around farms and agriculture – whether it is about safety in a work zone, or around machinery, or around livestock.

Chris:

Oh, you know, we have a lot of cattle in our area and kids are showing a little more. That is where a lot of our kids get involved with livestock is through the FFA and 4-H livestock shows and they are out, you know, learning about cattle there and it is not a vast majority of our area that has, but there is a lot of, you know, mom and pop operations that may have 10 or 15 head, you know, because grandpa had it, dads got it. So, we have some out there and then these other kids, it is just they have gotten involved in 4-H. And so, they have started showing and then learning the safety with that. You know, in rural Mississippi, a lot of everybody has a four-wheeler or a utility vehicle or side by side. You know, that is where a lot of we have a lot of injuries occur there. A lot of kids think it is not going to happen to me and. You know it. It can happen, I can give you some experiences for my life and, you know, other people that I have Grew up with, you know, known through Farm Bureau, that it just something weird happened and it cost them their life, or they got injured bad and, you know, change their lives forever.

Carey:

Right, it is important to share our stories, so that they understand the need for safety, and that it truly can happen to anyone, at any time. Are there any other practices or programs that you would like to mention?

Chris:

One thing that we started several years ago was what we call a fatal vision program to educate youth about the hazards of drinking and driving, and we implemented the texting and driving involved in it. And we borrowed this program from Arkansas, where they had some go carts and they, you know, did some work there and we decided to go with a golf cart and we ride them with the students, which was sometimes a challenging event and they would put on these goggles that would simulate being intoxicated, you know, point 08 to point one zero where in Mississippi, it is point 08. And you know, we would go through some of the, you know, legal issues that could be involved in drinking and driving, you know, how much you know, alcohol that is and you know, some of the legal consequences that that could be involved in in drinking and driving. And we go to the schools and, you know, we would ride with the students through the course and, you know, just try to educate them about those hazards and how it affects them when they do drive. Because a lot of these kids think, I mean, I am 15, 16 years old. You know, I am 16. I just got my license. I can, you know, I am bulletproof, and I do, and that is the most dangerous time was driving wise because it is that they just learn it, and it is just a lot of things out there to grasp.

Carey:

Oh yes. And while drinking and driving is already dangerous, drinking and driving while underage is even more dangerous!

Chris::

Well, you know, I think a lot of times it is boredom, it is easy to access the stuff. And you know. Hey, nothing is going to happen, I can ride these roads back here, it is straight you know, it is just here just to here and when you start getting speed involved and lack of experience it all piles up with, then you throw alcohol in, it is a tough result a lot of times.

Carey:

Yes; younger brains are not there yet when it comes to risk assessment, and then when you add alcohol into the mix, it is a real combination that can create a disaster… Well, it seems like Fatal Vision is truly a worthwhile program to consider adapting into other states, if they have not already in order, to keep our youth safe and aware. Chris, I appreciate that you took your time to share with us today!

Chris:

I appreciate y’all having me today and thank y’all for what y'all do.

Carey:

All right, thank you again Chris for talking to us and getting our toes wet with youth safety! Now let us go ahead, move on to our next guest, Marsha, who will paint the rest of the picture for youth safety in age. Alright, Marsha, thank you for joining us today on the Talking Total Farmer Health podcast. I am just going to let you go ahead and start off by introducing yourself and how you got into this atmosphere.

Marsha:

Okay. Thank you. Well, um my name is Marsha Salzwedel, and I am a project scientist and a youth agricultural safety specialist at the National Children's Center in Marshfield, Wisconsin. I grew up on a farm and loved every moment of it. It was fantastic growing up that way. Lots of great memories, lots of great friendships. And so, when I saw a job opening at the National Farm Medicine Center in Marshfield, which the National Children's Center is a part of, it felt like a good fit for me because I loved growing up on the farm and I cannot think of anything that is more precious to any families, but especially farm families, and their children. And so, the opportunity to be able to work to help protect those kids was just an opportunity that was too good to miss.

Carey:

Yeah, I can totally attest to that. You know, any time you hear of tragedy happening and it is a child involved, like the entire community's heart just breaks. What is the current setting for youth health and safety in AG right now?

Marsha:

Currently what we are looking at, what the latest numbers are telling us, is that about every three days a child dies in an agriculture-related incident. Some of these kids are working. Some of these kids are not working. We also know that more youth die working in agriculture than all other industries combined. As far as injuries go, we know that every day in the United States, about 33 children are seriously injured. Now, when we are talking seriously injured, we are talking that if they were adults, they would be off work because they were injured so seriously. So, we are not talking about falling and scraping their knees. So, yes, it is it is a fundamental problem here in the United States as it is around most of the world.

Carey:

I know our audience’s mind is going to be blown by those statistics because mine just was I had no idea. One in three. I mean, that is one every three days, I think is what you said. That is way, way in left field from what I thought.

Marsha:

You know, and it was for me, too. When I started at the at the farm center, I had no idea. Grew up on a farm. We had some bad experiences there. I have a cousin that got pulled into the hay blazer up to his shoulder when he reached for a broken bale. At one point I had a younger brother who was run over by a hay wagon at one point, and we just thought we were unlucky, you know, we just thought that it was just this weird thing that had happened. I had no idea this was as common as it is.

Carey:

When I am sitting here thinking about all the risk factors for youth that are living around ag productions, what are those main risk factors that we need to watch out for?

Marsha:

In a little bit of a way, it depends upon the age of the child and what the child is doing. So, we know that agriculture is one of the most dangerous work sites in the country. We also know it is the only work site in the United States where children of any age can be present. Because of that, we are dealing with young children in the work site and injuries to the young children. One of the biggest issues we deal with non-working children is tractors and other machinery. And one of the biggest issues is that people like to give kids rides on tractors or they will take them along in the combine with them. And unfortunately, tractors and machinery are leading causes of both fatalities and injuries on the farm site, both for non-working children and for working youth as well. Drowning is also another issue that we deal with as far as fatalities go. And when we are talking about drowning on farms, it is not just the traditional creeks or irrigation ponds or things like that. We also must think about things like manure pits. And one of the other things that sometimes falls in those statistics is grain. So, if you get engulfed in grain, that can cause suffocation, which in a lot of places they classify as drowning. And of course, we cannot forget about animals either. Animals are another leading cause of injuries on farms.

Carey:

I know that there are plenty of people listening right now that as soon as you said the giving rides on tractors, our minds went back to when we were children, and nobody had a cab tractor at that point. And you sat on the toolbox or the fender of the tractor. And today we are thinking, how did nothing ever go wrong? You know, and of course, there are a few stories out there that you have heard of in your community, but you are thinking, how many times did we do that brush hogging, doing hay, all that stuff, and nothing happened? I mean, it is just a godsent that nothing happened to us at that point. Never, ever would I do that today.

Marsha:

Well, and it is interesting that you say that, because, you know, I mentioned earlier about my brother that fell off the wagon and got run over by it. And so, when you really think back on it, those things did happen back then. It might not have happened specifically on your farm, but it did happen back then. The difference is, many years ago we did not have social media things, did not make the news like they do now. And so, the world did not travel like it does now. So those incidents and those things were happening back then. It is just that people were not as aware of it because we had different means of communication back then, and so the world did not travel as fast as it does now. And it is funny when you say that, because when you talk to people and you ask them about accidents on the farm and people will say, oh, well, that never happened to us, or I do not know anybody that happened to. And then when you start sharing a story or somebody brings up an incident and suddenly people will start going, oh yes, oh, I remember a story like that. Or I know somebody that happened to and when the stories start flowing, then suddenly people start remembering those incidents. But their first impression is that they are old. Nothing like that ever happened to us, or I do not know anybody. But when you start talking, then those memories start coming back.

Carey:

Yes, how true gets triggered. All right, well, we are going to take a quick break, and then we will continue talking with Marsha! Calling all ag educators! Do you teach youth between the ages of 14 and 23 that work on a farm or a ranch? Check out AgriSafe’s Invest in Your Health curriculum. Our 6 training modules cover some of the most common agriculture hazards, such as hearing protection, PPE, heat related illness, zoonosis, hazard mapping, and mental health. Educators can be trained on AgriSafe’s curriculum and then utilize the training materials for their own classroom. Join AgriSafe as we work to train the next generation of producers to make safety a priority. Visit www dot agrisafe dot org slash I Y H today to learn more and sign up for training. So do you have any suggestions for us who own farms to make the farms and operations a little bit safer for youth?

Marsha:

Uh absolutely. And again, you know, the strategies are going to be a little bit different if you are talking about the younger children versus, you are talking about working youth for younger children. One of the key strategies that we have is simply to keep them out of the farm work site. So, if you can get those kids into childcare, if you can get those children into safe play areas that are fenced off from those work sites, if they can be watched in the house by a caregiver and just get them out of that worksite, if they are not in the worksite, then they are not around equipment. You know, you are not giving them rides on equipment. They are not by those animals. They are not by those farm ponds. If we keep them out of that worksite, then we are removing them from those hazards. Now, when we talk about older children, some of the main causes of injuries for our working youth are youth that are doing jobs that do not match their abilities. And I remember this growing up. I remember my parents. Had us convinced that we were smarter, and we were faster, and we were stronger than other kids our age because farm kids were simply better. And to a point today, I still believe that to a certain point. But I do know that the studies have shown us that parents do tend to overestimate the abilities of their children. And so, if you can assess what a child is able to do, not just physically, but also mentally and cognitively, if you can match that child's ability to that task and sign work that is appropriate for their abilities, we know that we can reduce injuries by over half of our working youth just by doing that.

Carey:

Wow.

Marsha:

And so that is a lot. And we have work guidelines that can help you to do that for over 50 different tasks. But then the other strategy that we also recommend, whether we are talking about young children or even working youth, is good supervision and good rule setting. You know, there must be guidelines, there must be rules, and they must be supervised in these environments.

Carey:

Ya, I know that there are a lot of farmers out there that you are always short on help. Always. And I know like being put in the truck or on the tractor at six years old and you put it down in low and you say just drive in a straight line, you know, as you are pulling the hay wagon, many of us are going to raise our hand and saying, Yep, that is how we started. But that is going to come to a lot of people's minds as well. And you think about it, six years old and it is the same thing. I have the same mentality that I grew up with and many farm kids around me are just exposed to more. They do more. There is more responsibility on their shoulders because it is just expected the whole family will get involved.

Marsha:

Sure. Can I back up for just a minute and address something that you just said? One of the things that I do want to just mention, because you mentioned a good point when you talked about what we used to do when we were six years old and what we used to do when we were kids. And as I mentioned previously, you know, I was not aware of all the hazards back then and some of the stuff when my parents would let us do something, we just did it. But we know what those hazards are now. And so, we certainly do not promote kids of six years old operating a tractor. That is obviously too young or even giving them rides on the tractor. You know, those children cannot reach those pedals. And even if they could, they could not repeatedly have the strength to repeatedly push those pedals in. So, it is all about operating things safely. And those children, way back when we were kids and I am sorry, I am not implying that we are that old, even if I am. But even back when I was a kid, those accidents did happen. Those kids did get injured in those incidents. It is just like I said, the word of mouth was not there. So, I just wanted to kind of caveat a little bit. We try to encourage people not to promote younger kids working on things. And if you see it like on social media, we had an instance a little while back where somebody had some information on social media and they showed a young child on a Z turn lawnmower and they are like, yes, you know, she is incredibly young, but she can, you know, operate this. And I am so proud of her. And then it almost seemed like it was a race of the parents to post about how young their children were able to do these different tasks. And that type of behavior encourages people to put young children onto this equipment. It almost sets it make it appear like the norm is to do that. And so, we always suggest that when people see stuff like that, that you can just go out and say, hey, go out and look Youth Work Guidelines out on our Cultivate Safety dot org website and see if you can match that child's abilities with that job that they are doing. But if you see these types of things where they are promoting unsafe behaviors, we always ask people to speak up. You know, you do not always have to say that it is unruly behavior, but you could at least suggest a positive alternative.

Carey:

Yes, those are super important points to bring up and just bring to the forefront that it is reality. And when something happens, it happens that the least expected time to the best-intentioned people. Now, if any of them, any of the farmers want to go online or get a hold of some national resources, to look for guidance or extra education, are there any suggestions on where they can go for that?

Marsha:

Absolutely. We have a full website that is designed for farm parents and farm supervisors, and it has safety information both on keeping children and youth safe and some adult safety as well on the farm. And that is at cultivate safety dot org. And the other thing I wanted to mention about that website is there is a page on there that introduces a variety of different safety tools. And some of those tools are great for inspecting the farm and helping you to identify hazards. And other ones are just some videos and things that can teach you about what some of those hazards are and how to address them. So, I would strongly encourage you to just go out and just look around the website. There is a lot of valuable information and some fun activities on there as well.

Carey:

That is great. What would you say are the top areas that we should focus on to increase safety and wellness for youth living around age?

Marsha:

Well, to address the two biggest or to employ I guess would be a better way to put it. To employ the two best strategies for protecting our children and youth on the farms is for the non-working children, the young children. Just keep them out of that worksite. Do not give them rides on tractors. Do not take them into the pen when you are working with animals with you, just simply keep them out of the worksite. And for the older youth that are working, just make sure that you assess what their abilities are, and you match their abilities to the tasks that they are doing. And if we can do those two things, we could reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on farms and ranches.

Carey:

That is wonderful. We have gotten a wealth of knowledge today. Are there any other key points that you would like to make to our audience before we end today?

Marsha:

I would just once again encourage them to go head out to the Cultivate Safety dot org website when they have a chance. They are also welcomed to contact us with any questions or any requests for resources or anything that they might want. We are always happy to help in any way we can.

Carey:

That is fantastic. We here at AgriSafe are all about safety, obviously, within our name. So, we love to promote good, healthy, safe tactics for our audience. And that is our main goal, just to keep farmers employed but let us have them do it in a safe and efficient way. So. Marsha, we really appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to join us today and just give us the knowledge that you have and share with our audience. Thank you so much for being a guest on the Talking Total Former Health Podcast.

Marsha:

Thank you. It was my pleasure.

Carey:

Well, thank you so much again, to Chris Shivers and Marsha Salwedel for joining us today. And thanks to our listeners for joining us for another episode of Talking Total Farmer Health. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast to hear more from AgriSafe on the health and safety issues impacting our agricultural workers. To see more from AgriSafe, including webinars and our newsletter, visit w w w dot AgriSafe dot org. This episode was created by the AgriSafe Network. Script arranged by Laura Siegel, hosted by Carey Portell, edited by Joel Sharpton, with special guests Chris Shivers and Marsha Salwedel.