Farm safety is our top priority, but sometimes accidents happen. That’s why AgrAbility is there to help. We spoke with specialists at AgrAbility about what happens after an accident occurs on the farm.
What is it that AgrAbility of Wisconsin does?
AgrAbility of Wisconsin exists as a partnership between Easter Seals Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Extension to assist farmers who have been injured or have a disability.
Services include guidance and consultative services, connecting farmers to state-wide resources, with the goal of keeping them in the work that they love.
A common misconception about AgrAbility is that we simply buy machinery for farmers. Actually, through our consultative services, if we determine that new equipment or modifications to machinery are a good fit, we identify funding for those items and walk our farmers through the funding process.
Our services are free and confidential. We are coming up on celebrating 25 years of serving farmers in 2016, and in that time, we have helped nearly 3,000 farmers around the state.
How can you help farmers after an injury?
We help them realize how things are going to change once they get back to work, and help them adapt to and accept those changes. We can provide them with financial resources available through our partners at the Wisconsin Farm Center or FSA, and we can work with the farmer and family to provide guidance to them through the process of making modifications to the farm.
What should farmers and their families do after they have experienced a farming accident?
It is important for the family to address tasks that can be performed by other members of the family, making sure that chores and duties are age-appropriate. Depending on the severity of the accident, there is going to be some amount of recovery time for the farmer. Going back to work too soon puts you at risk for further injury. The farmer or family can call AgrAbility for help in identifying modifications so that the farm continues to run smoothly through the recovery time and beyond.
What questions and concerns do farmers need to address after such an incident?
Farmers need to give themselves a break and not focus on what they did wrong – there is a reason these incidents are called accidents. If it is a significant injury, they should allow themselves time to heal so they can better understand what life will be like following the injury and what they physically will be able to do. Then, the farmer can begin to identify which farm activities he or she needs to be involved in to allow the operation to continue successfully.
How have you helped others in the past?
A couple years ago, a farmer had lost his leg in a farm accident. He contacted AgrAbility right away when he was recovering in the hospital. I still remember him telling me how grateful he was that our staff was there, sharing examples of other farmers who had continued farming following the loss of limbs, and supporting him through the process of returning to the farm. He ultimately moved into more of a management role on the farm, and is still able to complete chores safely and efficiently.