Dear Mrs. Muzzi, For the past two issues, I have been reading your articles about farm safety and the one about electric wells [Delta Farm Press, pg. 6, Dec. 1, 2000, and pg. 9, Dec. 8, 2000]. The 13 year-old-boy that was electrocuted by a rice well was my stepson. Myself, my wife Diane, Brett's two brothers Bryce and Cory, and our black lab Rice were all there together on this Sunday evening we will never forget.
Brett had grown more interested in farming and learning about it as he was growing older. We have since day one always taught our kids about the dangers in farming. We would never let them do anything that we did not feel to be safe.
Brett was to the age that he liked to have some responsibility. He had already started driving tractors by himself, driving pickups around farm roads and even starting up our electric wells. We never let them around the power units because of the drive-shafts.
The day this accident happened, Brett did not do anything wrong in starting this particular well. As you stated in your article, there are unforeseen dangers that we know nothing about. This accident was not anyone's fault. This panel box would have killed anybody that walked up and touched it.
We check our electric wells periodically and they are serviced and cleaned by us or by an electrician if repairs beyond just changing fuses and cleaning are needed.
We can do everything in our power to try and prevent accidents from happening, but some things are beyond our control.
My family and I thank you for the articles and hope you continue to publish the ones about safety. All of my friends and people I have met since the accident say they never imagined anything like this accident would have ever happened and can't ever recall it happening before. It has changed their habits of walking up and just pushing a button on a panel box.
We have, since the accident, removed the electric motor and replaced it with a gear-drive. Shortly after it pumped sand and we relocated the site. Come spring, when it dries up and we clean up the old site, there will be nothing left in this spot but open field and bad memories.
To the editor: Having grown up on a farm, I fully agree that there are many dangers related to the operation of tractors and other farm equipment ("On-farm accidents: Enough is enough" [Delta Farm Press, pg. 4, Dec. 8, 2000]).
Having a ROPS and seat belts is clearly a step in the right direction, however, I completely disagree when you suggest having the government involved. Once government gets involved, where will it end? Government cannot handle its own problems, let alone get them even more involved in farming.
I am a firm believer in providing information and disclosures related to products, similar to what food products now have in grocery stores. The only legislation that should be involved is mandatory product information forms displayed on each tractor detailing its rollover safety performance and the rest should be left up to the buyer.
We have a severe shortage of personal responsibility in this country, largely brought on by this "nanny" attitude of how we see government's role.
If all of the facts are presented on each tractor manufactured regarding rollover performance, I can assure you that no company will want to see a "failure" rating on their product when presented to a prospective farmer. It is time to stand up and keep the government regulators from expanding their reach.
Just as an example, look at the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab we have here (I live in Nebraska). A simple phone call to the lab and you can get an objective report on a tractor or an annual guide to all tractors tested in a given year. This information can be used by the free market place to make a decision. The same approach can be applied to ROPS systems. Provide information, not regulation. Most of us have the ability to think.