Making Farming Safer

June 13, 2013

From “Making Farming Safer” — Green Bay – It’s consistently listed by the National Safety Council as one of the top three most dangerous occupations in the country.

That’s why for the past 17 years Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s farm business program has tried to make farming safer in Wisconsin.

“About 25-30 fatalities a year in agriculture,” says NWTC Tractor Safety Instructor Martin Nackers about Wisconsin statistics.

Each spring Nackers and Doug Sutter teach a tractor safety course to an average of 125 students between the age of 12 and 15.

“We start kids off very young working on farms, and that’s just not something you’re born into. You really have to learn safe practices,” says Sutter.

Outside metro areas, young people often land their first job on a farm.

“The majority of my friends work on farms. Not many work at restaurants anymore, they all work on farms right now,” says 15-year old Justin Mahlberg from Denmark.

But according to state law, students like Justin can’t drive machinery on roads until they pass a course like NWTC’s.

“The parents realize the hazards are greater, so they’re wanting to make sure they’re prepared, and they’re getting farther away from the farm. Let’s face it, it’s not just that little unit anymore; they have to go several miles perhaps away from home and Mom, thank God, is concerned about that and she wants to make sure they get there and get back safely,” says Sutter.

Over four days, students learn how to operate tractors and machinery and identify hazards.

They’re also taught fire safety and first aid.

“And as these kids grow up, they tell you incidents and stories how they remembered things from tractor safety and how they’re really thankful for what we’ve done. That’s the good feeling, when you get the thank-yous that come years later,” says Nackers.


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