You can’t get anything past Western Producer readers.
Not that we were trying to do so, but it’s amazing what careful readers you are.
Recently, we published a photograph on page one of a man lying under a header and grinding away on a repair job.
The sparks were flying, far enough and hot enough to sprinkle our photographer and the effort made quite a spectacular picture.
What none of us managed to notice was that the safety prop was not in place. Dazzled by the sparks glowing in the photo, and the timeliness of someone trying to fix a combine during harvest, we just did not see it.
But you did. I don’t know how many phone calls and letters and emails we received on the subject, but they were legion.
There is an ongoing debate about publishing photographs that do not necessarily reflect best safety practices.
Recently, we also ran a photo of a girl curled up inside a tractor wheel. That one, too, elicited some responses — some of them quite angry.
Some of our readers say that we should not be publishing such photos, because they illustrate the wrong way of doing things, and therefore condone or promote these behaviours. We certainly do not condone anything that is not safe.
However, we have long held the view that we are here to depict farm life as it is, warts and all. Illustrations of unsafe situations usually generate quite a bit of debate and discussion, much of it quite heated (although most of it also polite). That is what we are here for — to inform, but also to generate debate.
I believe that discussion is where best practices come from — not entirely from safety manuals, al-though of course that’s a crucial first step.
But safe behaviour can be strongly influenced by friends, family and community. I’m willing to bet that photo generated a heck of a lot of conversation around dinner tables and in coffee shops, and that’s a good thing even if The WP took some heat.
Over and above crop prices and weather, safety is always, always the most important thing.
Thank you to everyone who called to point that out, and to everyone who pointed it out to a neighbour. And please, be safe out there.