HONEY CREEK, Mo. — Twenty-five years ago, a normal day on the farm turned upside down for Brian Fleischmann, a farmer from Cole County, Missouri.
He was picking corn with a one-row picker when the machine stopped working properly. He reached in to clear it out, just as he had many times before — but this time it took his hand.
“It was a fight for my life to try and get free from the machine,” he said during a Growing Safely promotion video.
Fleischmann said fatigue was a factor in the accident.
“At the time, I was working in a transformer plant in Jefferson City,” he said. “A lot of times I’d work a shift and a half and still try to come out and farm.
“I wish people understood how bad it has changed my life. The life I knew ended that day, right there in that corn field. I had to relearn to do things that came natural to me in the past.”
Now he is encouraging other farmers to put safety first.
“I’d like to tell other farmers that there is tomorrow,” Fleischmann said. “Don’t try to get everything done in one day. Don’t push and push and push. When you’re tired, shut the machine off, go in the house. There’s no going back with these accidents. It can be prevented if we think about that first.”
Joseph Brajdich, Extension educator at University of Missouri, agreed that being tired while doing farm work is dangerous.
“Working with combines and machinery late into the night — there are not many times a farmer can ask for help or be alerted to danger ahead of them,” he said. “Individuals can avoid fatigue on the farm by finding time to relax. Especially during planting and harvesting.
“Incorporate good, quality sleep. You need to rest fully. Part of that is using breathing techniques, anything you can do to get a little more at ease so you can get into that deep REM sleep that you need.”
National Farm Safety and Health Week will be held Sept. 19-25.
Learn more at www.necasag.org/nationalfarmsafetyandhealthweek.