LINCOLN, Neb. — A new farm safety website, “Telling the Story,” features firsthand accounts by farmers who have been injured or who have lost family members to agriculture-related incidents. The website debuts just in time for National Farm Safety Week, Sept. 22-26.
Some of the stories are painful, but those sharing their farm experiences through the “Telling the Story Project” firmly believe in the website’s tagline – tell a story, save a life. Article topics featured on the site include ATVs, equipment upgrades, falls, farming with injuries, fire, foaming manure and ladder safety.
“Research indicates that farmers are more open to safety messages after reading about a traumatic farm incident,” said Ellen Duysen, coordinator and outreach specialist for the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health. “Farmers generally consider other farmers and agricultural publications to be trusted sources of information.”
Tellingthestoryproject.org provides a venue for farmers who have been impacted by fatal and non-fatal agricultural workplace injuries to share their experiences and offer insight for injury prevention.
Duysen, who raised hogs, cattle and three “rascally boys” on farms in Colorado and Iowa, is one of five team members involved in the site. Her personal farming experience provided understanding of the many farming and ranching hazards. While conducting educational outreach with ag communities, Duysen heard many stories of work-related injuries and fatalities. She believes stories told by those who had the experiences raises awareness and stimulates conversations about how to prevent similar incidents.
One of the storytellers, Leon Sheets of Ionia, Iowa, shared his experience with a flash fire in his swine finishing building in 2014 while he was rinsing off the building’s floor. He didn’t know methane gas from the building pit was released into the air when water spray broke the pit foam 18 inches below the slatted floor. He was engulfed by a fire ball that burned 20 percent of his body, including his farms, hands, and face, and melted his glasses. He now practices and promotes safety.
The site also includes links to major AG safety resources such as the National Ag Safety Database, the US Agricultural Health and Safety Centers YouTube channel, Farm & Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice (CoP) and Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority (HAS) Survivor Stories.
Links to “stories with impact” also put readers in touch with online articles such as Iowa’s Ginnie Peters and Kansas farmer John Blaske, both farmers who have been affected by or considered suicide. This page also features a link to the short documentary film, “Edge of the Real World,” which points to the risks and rewards of grain farming. It describes grain entrapment hazards and includes links on grain handling safety.
“We encourage site visitors to share links to our stories,” Duysen said. “They may be republished without further permission as long as they’re published as written. We simply ask that the work be credited to the author, photographer videographer and/or graphic artist along with a note that the story was produced by Tellingthestoryproject.org.
“We’re creating injury prevention messages that highlight personal stories and firsthand experiences. No one wants to see any of these incidents happen to anyone else.”