Our Voice: Be cautious during this time of year

Farm Forum

It is an unfortunate fact that there are three separate area investigations currently being conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration office.

• On July 23, Larry Huffman, 66, died after he was run over by a semi pup trailer at a construction site in the Industrial Park.

• On Aug. 2, Michael Fogel, 22, died and Christopher Mehlhaff, 27, was seriously injured after they fell from a boom truck that tipped over in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

• And then just Tuesday, Adan Sotelo Preciado, 48, died when he fell through a roof while working on an addition to a warehouse in Northville in Spink County.

It is an unusual string of workplace deaths for this area.

Ask any business owner or manager: Adhering to complex OSHA regulations can be expensive and time-consuming. But it is hard to imagine working without the oversight of such an entity.

And while not everyone is under the same obligations to follow OSHA rules, i.e. private family farms, we must all remember that there are excellent reasons to be constantly conscious of safety.

There are all sorts of ways our South Dakota neighbors can be injured or killed in preventable accidents.

Schools are open again. Children are biking or walking on busy streets loaded down with heavy backpacks. Anticipate the worst — that the child might veer into traffic. Slow down. Way down.

The recent heat wave had the potential to cause serious or deadly health problems for those working outside. Get out of the heat for a few minutes each hour. Drink water. Be alert to the fact that your co-worker might be in trouble.

Construction season will soon be coming to an end. Slowing down while in construction zones is not just a good idea, it’s the law. And just because traffic is moving at a crawl does not make it a great time to send a couple of fun texts or tweets.

Harvest season is fast approaching. Tractors tip over and grain bins plug up. Busy, tired farmers may be tempted to take shortcuts. Don’t.

Retrofitting your equipment with rollover protective structures might be a hassle, but it’s a hassle that can save lives.

Hunting season will soon be in full swing. Review safety rules every single day before entering the field. And if one of the hunters does not behave in a responsible manner, show no mercy. He or she is out of the group.

There are so many ways we can be hurt on the job. Most of the time, it is when we are distracted or busy. Slow down. Be vigilant. Take the time to think about what you are doing. Don’t take shortcuts.

More importantly, if you spot an OSHA violation or simply an unsafe situation, report it.

If we watch over our co-workers, they will watch over us. It’s a good trade.

— American News editorial board