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Communicate And Concentrate For Safety, Says Farm Group Leader

It’s been 13 years since Neil Enns’ right hand was severed by the blades of a running auger. He was cleaning the auger that day after harvest, and did not hear his co-worker warn him its motor was being switched on.

The Elm Creek farmer has spent virtually every day of his life since trying to get other farmers to hear a message about farm safety.

So it was with some disappointment he surveyed a sparse audience at a farm safety seminar jointly hosted by KAP and MAFRI here Nov. 10.

“I’d hoped I’d be speaking to about 200 farmers in the room,” said Enns, president and co-ordinator of Manitoba FarmersWith Disabilities, an organization he founded after his arm healed enough to farm again.

An emphatic speaker, Enns said the best advice he can offer peers from his own experience is to slow down, communicate clearly with coworkers, concentrate on the task at hand, and keep equipment in good working order.

Those who’ve had a mishap or a near-miss frequently admit it happened during a moment when they let their guard down, or were working fatigued, Enns said. Since his own amputation, he’s heard of far too many incidents, often occurring in distressingly similar circumstances. “Shut that motor down” if you must tend to a jam or do other servicing of farm equipment, Enns stressed. “Then it won’t cost you an arm or a leg.”

Or your life. There have been five fatalities in 2009 on Manitoba farms. Unfortunately, that’s an average number of deaths seen annually in this province, said provincial farm safety co-ordinator Glen Blahey who also spoke at the seminar.

Manitoba’s Farm Family Safety and Health Guide states that “in the vast majority of incidents, where people are seriously injured or die, the event was predictable and preventable.

For more information on Manitoba Farmers with Disabilities contact 1-204-436-3181 or toll free 1-866-680-6393. [email protected]

About the author

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Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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