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Nebraska Extension offers tractor safety training in Panhandle


Agricultural workers make up only 6.6 percent of Nebraska's workforce, but in 2002 they accounted for 33 percent of the state's workplace fatalities, according to a report by Cornhusker Economics author Dave Aiken.

"This means that agricultural work related fatalities were 500 percent of agriculture's proportionate share," Aiken said. "Obviously, agriculture is a hazardous industry."

Nebraska farm fatalities have averaged almost 32 per year since 1969, ranging in age from 1 to 99. Historically, tractor rollovers have been the most common cause, but lately ATVs (all-terrain vehicles or four wheelers) have replaced tractors for the dubious distinction, according to statistics quoted by UNL Extension Educator Bill Booker.

In 2008, farm accidents killed 16 Nebraskans, ranging in age from 8 years old to adult.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension will offer National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program (NSTMOP) safety trainings in June at several Panhandle locations. ATV overturn safety will be covered in the training.

The safety training is for 14- to 15-year-olds who want to work on farms other than their parents', or who just wish to have the safety training. UNL Extension will offer Tractor Safety classes to meet federal and state statutes for these 14 and 15-year-olds at the following locations:

--June 10 in Gordon at 21st Century Equipment (first day only);

--June 11 and 12 in Alliance at 21st Century Equipment;

--July 7 and 8 in Bridgeport at 21st Century Equipment.

Upon satisfactory completion of the first day activities the students will be invited back for the second day which will be include testing, a practicum and driving. The second day or testing day can be at any of the locations offering second day testing. Gordon participants will have to make those arrangements, however. Upon satisfactory completion of the second or testing day a permit will be issued.

Federal law requires allows the employment of 14- and 15-year-olds for many agricultural tasks only after they have completed training. There is an exemption for those working on their parents' or guardians' farm. Producers who violate this law can be fined up to $10,000 the first time. A second offense can have the fine plus imprisonment up to six months.

Information and pre-registration are available at Extension offices in Alliance (308-762-5616), Scottsbluff (308-632-1480), Bridgeport (308-262-1022), Sidney (308-254-4455), Rushville (308-327-2312) or Chadron (308-432-3373). There is a $35 fee for materials, registration and the first day meal. Participants should bring a sack lunch the second day. Pre-registration is preferred to help in planning.

Training begins at 8 a.m. each day and will end by 5 p.m. Participants should dress for safety. This means full shirts and long pants with shoes that cover the ankles.

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