Radke Report: Remember Jaxon by practicing farm safety
National Farm Safety and Health Week is earmarked for September 18-24.
According to the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS), “The 2019 data for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 573 fatalities, or an equivalent of 23.1 deaths per 100,000 workers.
“Fall harvest time can be one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons of the year for the agriculture industry. For this reason, the third week of September has been recognized as National Farm Safety and Health Week. This annual promotion initiated by the National Safety Council has been proclaimed as such by each sitting U.S. President since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944.”
While there are countless offshoots to the discussion of farm safety – including the physical dangers and demands of working in agriculture, as well as the mental toll and hardships that farmers and ranchers often experience – in this week’s column, I want to talk about how families can stay safe by sharing simple reminders that can often be overlooked.
This summer while speaking at a Pioneer Seeds meeting, I had the chance to meet the Boomsma family, and they shared how they tragically lost their son, Jaxon, in a farm accident five years ago.
As the Boomsmas grieved the loss of their beautiful son, who loved the farm so much, they also knew they wanted to work to prevent farm accidents and deaths for other families.
In Jaxon’s memory, they established the JLB Mission 23 Committee, which raises funds to enhance community parks, host farm safety programs, and provide scholarships to students pursuing careers in agriculture.
With this memorial fund in place, they also published a book titled, “Staying safe on the Farm with Jaxon.” It’s a beautiful story with a critical message, and reading it to my own kids, I was reminded how vital having these conversations is with both our children and the adults who work on the farm with them underfoot.
As we recognize the importance of practicing farm safety during National Farm Safety and Health Week, I wanted to share some of the tips from Jaxon’s story. In the book, readers are reminded to:
- Keep your distance from machines in use, and don’t climb on machinery because you could get hurt if you fall off.
- Keep your distance from the PTO shaft, and wear fitted clothing and your hair pulled up, so it won’t get caught up in machinery. Farm animals are not pets. Do not climb in the pens, or play with livestock.
- Watch out for electric fences, and never climb on or play in grain bins. Be careful in the shop where chemicals and gasoline are stored. Always have an adult with you when riding on a four-wheeler, and make sure to wear a helmet.
- Supervision is important around rivers, ponds, and dugouts. Climbing bales can be fun, but it’s best to stay off of them as you could fall and break your arm or get trapped in between hay stacks.
- Be aware of wells on the farm, and make sure they are properly covered. Steer clear of the mower when in use as it could spit rocks at you, and the blades are very sharp!
The story closes with a message, “Remember, share these safety tips with your family and friends, so they can stay safe! The more we share these tips, the more lives we can save.”
We can honor the life of Jaxon Boomsma by continuing to have conversations about farm safety with our loved ones. Consider purchasing this book and sharing it far and wide. It could literally save a life.
Copies can be purchased at facebook.com/jaxonboomsma23 or at amandaradke.com.
Amanda Radke is a fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State University with a degree in agricultural communications, education and leadership, Radke is a blogger for BEEF Daily blog.