Ag Safety Expo at Penn State set for Feb. 22

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences will host its second annual Agricultural Safety Expo from 9 a.m. to approximately 1 p.m., Feb. 22, at the Snider Agricultural Arena on the University Park campus.

The free event will feature workshops and demonstrations to educate and engage the public in agricultural safety and rescue measures.

The Ag Safety Expo will be of interest to community members and students alike, according to Christopher Cox, a safety specialist with the college and a key organizer of the event.

“This year, we’re really hoping to engage a broader audience including employees, faculty and especially students, and not just ag students — any student is invited,” Cox said. “These types of demonstrations and displays may be something graduating students may not be exposed to when they move through their careers.”

Most of the displays and topics to be covered at the expo are applicable to an array of people. All-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety and tractor safety are two such examples. For Cox, the message of tractor safety hits home because he had a close friend who was killed as a result of a tractor rollover in 2013. “ATV and tractor accidents can occur anywhere,” he said.

Agriculture consistently ranks among the most hazardous occupations, with high rates of injuries and fatalities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2016 alone, there were 417 farmers and farm workers who died from a work-related injury in the United States.

The leading causes of deaths in this industry, such as machinery- and animal-related accidents, are largely preventable with proper instruction, noted Michael Pate, Nationwide Insurance Associate Professor of Agricultural Safety and Health in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. “Often times, it boils down to an unsafe act or an unsafe condition,” he said. “People can be educated to avoid unsafe acts and how to avoid or improve unsafe conditions.”

Penn State has earned a reputation as a leader in agriculture, Pate noted. “People look toward Penn State and Penn State Extension to provide the research and applied knowledge to help them be successful in their endeavors,” he said.

The Ag Safety Expo is one of many resources that Penn State provides to raise awareness of farm safety. In addition to university resources, students and the public may access information through Penn State Extension. “Extension is a cooperative effort among land-grant universities and local, state and federal agencies to deliver unbiased, reliable education for the public through written programs, videos, workshops and more,” Pate said.

The expo will offer a hands-on way to explore the implicit dangers of the farming industry. “If it saves one life or prevents one horrific injury, it’s worth it,” Cox said.

The Ag Safety Expo will feature the following activities and displays:

–ATV Rollover/Tilt Table Demonstration: For farm employees and adventure enthusiasts alike, this demonstration will present a full-size ATV simulation and instructions for safe operation and injury prevention.

–Tractor Safety Strategies: Participants will have the chance to engage with a tractor scene and learn safety strategies such as rollover prevention.

–Large Animal Rescue Simulation and Display: Using a horse mannequin outfitted with a rescue harness, participants will learn how to prevent and mitigate emergencies involving horses or livestock. A rescue simulation will be conducted with the Centre County Animal Rescue Team.

–Flowing Grain Hazard Display: Grain flows in confined structures are a leading cause of injury on farms. This simulation will demonstrate how grain flows within these storage structures and emergency-response techniques to avoid the hazards of grain flow.

–Chainsaw Safety and PSU Woodsmen Team Demonstration: Penn State Senior Research Technologist Mike Powell will provide chainsaw safety information and training. The demonstration will be followed by a presentation by the Penn State Woodsmen Team.

–Pesticide Education: Representatives from the Penn State Pesticide Education Program will provide information about pesticide spill cleanup and personal protective equipment.

–Corn Harvest Hazard Simulator: Participants can view a simulation demonstrating the hazards of corn-picking and prevention strategies for machinery entanglement.

–Fire Extinguisher Simulator: This demonstration will inform participants of the basics of fire extinguishers and will feature a digital fire that participants can fight using “a laser-driven infrared portable extinguisher.”

–Head, Eye, and Foot Protection: This demonstration will illustrate the necessity and correct usage of personal protective equipment.

–Farm Hazard Hunt Display: This simulation will present proper detection and assessment strategies to prevent farm hazards.

AgrAbility: This program assists farmers and agricultural workers with disabilities or long-term health conditions by supplying the resources they need to independently live and work in agricultural production.

Those planning to attend the Ag Safety Expo are asked to pre-register at https://extension.psu.edu/agricultural-safety-expo. For more information, call 814-865-9047 or e-mail cas-safety@psu.edu.

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