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Tractor safety course in April

By Richard C. Snell
Barton County Extension Agent, agriculture

Safety is no accident. It is a learned response similar to "defensive driving" where by you look for and try to anticipate hazards in advance before they get you. Practicing safety can apply to your home in terms of fire safety, poison prevention and working around automobiles. It can also apply to weather or storm hazards. On the farm it applies to nearly everything--machinery, shop equipment, livestock and other things. When you get down to it--safety is an attitude.

Each year for a number of years, we have taught the tractor safety--Hazardous Occupations Training Course to 14 and 15 year old youth. We even occasionally teach it to older youth if their employer requires it and if we have space available. Well, now is the time to sign up.

We only offer this course once a year and it will be taught in April. There will be seven evening sessions: April 2, 13, 14, 16, 20, 21 and plus the final exam on the evening of April 23. Sessions will run from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Those youth wishing to complete the course must attend a minimum of 5 of the first 6 sessions. Also, a parent or guardian must attend at least one of the first 5 sessions.

There has been a Federal Law on the books since 1970 that requires farm workers to be at least 16 years of age unless they have completed the requirements of a tractor and machinery training course. The law states that 14- and 15-year-olds may work on farms provided they have successfully completed a hazardous occupations training course administered through the extension service. Youth aged 13 and under cannot do any farm labor termed hazardous on any farm other than their parents under any circumstances.

Employers who break this law are subject to a hefty fine. Youth who are employed on their parent's farm are not subject to this law. However, any other relatives such as grandparents are. Unfortunately, about the only time we see anyone get into trouble with this law is when there is an accidental death of a young person or they are seriously injured.

If a youth is only operating riding lawnmowers or tractors under 20 horsepower or doing general odd jobs on the farm and not working around equipment, he is exempt. On the other hand, there are additional hazardous jobs which may not be performed by youth under 16 even when they have completed the special safety course. Among these are using a chain saw, working under a ladder over 20 feet in height, applying anhydrous ammonia or handling ag chemicals, being in a pen with a male breeding animal or mother with newborn livestock, or felling timber over six inches in diameter. Also included in this is working in silos, grain bins or manure pits.

I might also point out that the safety training certificate that we issue does not take the place of a drivers license and only applies to tractors, combines, swathers and other farm machinery on the road and not to trucks or automobiles.

If you are a 14- or 15-year-old youth or if you are 16 or older and know that your employer requires you to take this, please let us know. We will take down your name, address and phone number. We will also need your social security number.

All classes will be held in Great Bend. One session will be at a local equipment dealer; all others will be at the Barton County Extension meeting room. Cost of the course is $15, which includes the workbook and snacks.

Please contact us at the Barton County Extension Office, 1800 12th Street, Great Bend, KS 67530 to sign up. You can also e-mail me at rsnell@ksu.edu or call at 620- 793-1910.

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