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Farmers tend to have poorer hearing than individuals their age who don't farm.

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Scholarship Winner

By Bonita Mechor
Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture
September 30, 2011

“When you teach your children about safety and watch out for their health you are setting guidelines and values for the rest of their lives. It’s a busy world with everyone in too big of a hurry, and children need to learn to stop and think about the consequences of their actions. Farm safety training has far reaching effects that may not be noticeable now, but will pay off in the future.”

-Steven Tymiak
2011 SARM Scholarship Winner

RM of Ituna Bon Accord No. 246 Student Awarded SARM Scholarship

Each year at the SARM Annual Convention, a grade 12 student receives the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities 90th Anniversary $1,000 Student Scholarship in Agricultural Safety and Rural Health for the best farm safety essay. This scholarship, initiated in 1995 with funds from auctioning the first copy of the history book The Building of a Province: Commemorating the 90th Anniversary of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities is intended to help students from rural Saskatchewan pursue post-secondary education. The Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture Founding Chairs Program continues to fund the scholarship while the Agricultural Health and Safety Network administers it.

This year’s winner of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities 90th Anniversary $1000 Student Scholarship in Agricultural Safety and Rural Health is Steven Tymiak from the RM of Ituna Bon Accord #246. Steven is planning to enter the college of Arts and Science at the University of Regina this fall and to eventually attend law school.

Steven lives in the Kelliher area in the Hamlet of Jasmin. Steven’s essay stresses the value of safety training for young workers. This is a core strategy emphasized in the Network’s newly updated resource called “The Farm Safety Walkabout.”

The Importance of Safety and Health on Our Farm

Have you ever thought of how you can teach your children how to be safe around the farm? When your kids are little, you wonder how you can keep them safe from all of the potential hazards around the farm. What you are actually doing when you teach your kids about safety and watch out for their health is setting their values and guidelines for the rest of their lives. Teaching children not to run out in front of a tractor, don’t touch the chemicals, keep away from the PTO, etc., will help them in everyday life. But the truth is that farm safety starts before kids are able to work on the tractor or use chemicals. It starts in the home, in the yard where kids learn to cut grass. Most of safety can be learned from something as simple as the lawn mower. The importance of safety and health on farms is to teach values to our children so they can become responsible in the future.

The fundamentals of farm safety can be taught on a small scale and will carry over. The lawn mower is the perfect place to start. This is where I started with farm equipment and is more than likely the place most kids will start. There are guidelines that are taught before they sit down on the mower for that first time. You learn not to wear baggy clothes, wear safety goggles, ear plugs, and keep your shoelaces tucked in. These would seem to be obvious things to you or I, but that is because we were taught them. If the proper work attire is taught, years later, when the kids are capable of using tractors and combines, they won’t even have to think about what to wear. They will select the right clothes by themselves. Now think further into the future, knowing the right clothes in one area will allow them to identify what is proper in another, like a formal settings. They will be looked at as classy individuals because these kids have had the opportunity to build on their newly acquired skills. Being taught to wear ear protection will save children from future hearing damage. That is one injury that can never be healed. It is up to the parents to teach their kids to wear ear protection. In the future, when they listen to music, like every teenager, they will know not to play the music to loud because they understand what hearing loss is.

From the lawn mower, kids will learn to be aware of potential dangers. After being taught by their parents, things like keeping their hands out from under the mower while the blade is on will not only keep them safe, but keep them cautious. If they don’t know the consequences, they will be a curiosity, and everyone knows curiosity killed the cat. So now that they know to keep aware from fast moving objects, in the future, they will keep away from the PTO. Knowing that a blade can cut off their hand will allow them to recognize that a seemingly harmless PTO can do the same thing.

When your children actually get moving on the lawnmower, they will learn to be aware of their surroundings and the possible hazards of life. It’s a busy world with everyone in too big of a hurry. Children need to learn to stop and think about the consequences of their actions. If they are not taught this, they will think that “it can’t happen to me”. Something no parent wants to hear. While cutting the grass, kids will watch out for things like stumps, obvious hazards. If they hit one, they will find out what a stump is capable of. They may break the mower blade, but will have now learned though trial by error the consequences that are involved, which will carry over into the future with bigger farm equipment. It is better to have broken a blade then to have destroyed the whole combine. Because of this minor accident, in the future, they will slow down and think about what could happen. In the future they could be out partying and will more than likely be faced with the problem of choosing whether or not to drive home drunk. Having been taught to identify dangers time and time again in the past in the farm environment, they won’t even have to think twice about drunk driving. They will know the dangers and will choose to stay the night and sleep it off or have a designated driver. Also while cutting tall grass, they may hit a rock. It can’t be seen, but that experience will keep them looking out for other hidden dangers. In the future, when they have a driver’s license, they will now look out for deer on the road so they will avoid accidents. It is decisions like these that every parent wants their child to make. They can teach their kids these values starting from childhood in the home. These values will break the “I’m a teenager, so I’m invincible. Nothing can hurt me,” principle. A huge problem with today’s youth.

Teaching kids safety procedures will not only allow them to steer clear of dangers, but also teach them organization and future work skills. It may be hard to make a connection between these things but there is. Safety teaches values. Cutting the grass or combining a field requires a certain skill. To get the job done quickly and to make it look good, you have to be organized. You don’t want to cut an area twice and you don’t want to leave patches. This is common sense, but must be taught to children. They must always be thinking, what have I done, what needs to be done, what do I need to get this done, and how am I going to get this job done. That is what I think when I cut the grass, or a farmer combines his field. But isn’t that also what anyone thinks when they take on a job in the real world? Kids will also learn that they have to watch out for others as well. You can run over someone with a combine. There is no worse feeling than putting someone else in danger because of your actions. That is the same thing that is found in say a construction site. Wouldn’t you want your kid to see that danger and make the mistake at home before it happens to someone else at the workplace.

In conclusion, farm safety has far reaching effects. They may not be noticeable now, but it will be guaranteed to pay off in the future. I personally, work at a machine shop in an agricultural area. I have experience with all types of farm equipment. I have been taught by my parents the safety procedures of all of these types of farm equipment, and can reasonably say that it has improved my life. Because of this I still retain all limbs, senses, and have not suffered any serious injury. These values have gone a long way. You don’t need to come in contact with all of this machinery, a lawnmower can teach the same values. A lawnmower can teach the fundamentals, keep them aware of potential hazards, be aware of their surroundings, and teach them future life skills. This is the importance of safety and health on the farm. It will teach children important values that they can take into the future, whether or not that future entails farming.


Application forms for the 2011-2012 scholarship are available online, or in RM offices in September, 2011.