March 9, 2023

Farm safety: those defining moments

Topic: Education

By Sherry Saylor

Life is often marked by a series of defining events: graduations, marriage, the birth of a child or grandchild, or in our case the day our two-year-old son, Scott, was run over by a tractor. Forty years have come and gone and yet the events of that day are still crystal clear and even raw.

Dec. 2, 1982, was like any other typical day on the farm. My husband, Rick, was in the office doing bookwork. His brother, Dan, was in the shop yard with his son and our son, Scott, hooking up tractors to discs as they prepared for the day’s fieldwork.

I had recently been elected Arizona Farm Bureau Women’s chair and Monica Pastor (Arizona Farm Bureau staff at the time) came out to our farm to help educate me about my new responsibilities. As we chatted in my kitchen, I suddenly looked up to see my brother-in-law at our Dutch door holding our very still son in his arms yelling, “Scott’s been run over by a tractor!”

I screamed for Rick, Monica went to the freezer to get ice, and my only memory is seeing blood on Scott’s little jacket. Rick determined that Scott was breathing shallowly. I was in total shock and was in essence paralyzed with fear.

Rick and Dan jumped in the pickup to race to the doctor’s office. A helicopter flew Scott to Good Samaritan Hospital where he spent the next week. He had bruised internal organs and a cut on his head but no broken bones — a true miracle. We were so fortunate that Scott made a full recovery.

This was truly an accident. Scott was put on our only open cab tractor next to the tractor driver, who didn’t realize he was there. As he backed up, the tractor lurched, Scott fell off and the front wheel of the tractor went over his body diagonally, thankfully missing his head! Falls from tractors, rollovers, PTO shafts and grain elevator events all contribute to the more than 500 fatalities that occur each year on farms and ranches. It is so easy to become complacent on the farm when you do many routine chores repeatedly.

About every three days a child dies in an agriculture-related accident. More than half of these involve kids who are not working — they are just bystanders in the farm environment. It is vital that we all realize that farms can be dangerous places and that agriculture remains one of the most hazardous industries. We all need to be aware of the hazards on our farms and minimize the risks before a tragedy occurs.

Rick and I were truly thankful for prompt medical care as well as the prayers and support of our local community and the Farm Bureau family during this time. We feel very fortunate to this day as to the outcome of this event. It could have been so different and we don’t take for granted the blessing of Scott surviving this event.

Sherry Saylor is an Arizona farmer, ad hoc member of the Arizona Farm Bureau board of directors and former chair of the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee. This column was originally published by Arizona Farm Bureau and is republished with permission.

Agricultural Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) Week is March 6-10. U.S. Agricultural Safety and Health Centers join Farm Bureau in promoting ag safety this week with the theme “Lead the Way in Agriculture.”

Although NDFB no longer has a farm safety program, these resources from NDFB's ABC on the Farm provide a variety of still pertinent tips to keep our kids safe on the farm.

Second grade farm safety

Fifth grade farm safety