It is December 8, 2019, late afternoon and nearly time for milking…
Meg Moynihan-Stuedemann is getting the parlor ready and notices that the air filter looks somewhat dirty. Milk quality is very important on the Stuedemanns’ farm so she wanted to make sure this filter was replaced. Outside the barn she finds a ladder which is stuck in the snow and ice. Meg manages to pull it out and sees that one of the rubber grips on the bottom is missing.
Once inside with the ladder set up and seemingly secure – no wiggling, wobbling or swaying, Meg goes up to remove the filter and climbs back down to get the new one. Then up again and down one more time to get a second smaller “dome” filter. Her feet were about 5 feet off the ground when the ladder started to fall and Meg took a ride down, landing on the cement floor with her right shoulder taking the impact.
I don’t think I can milk tonight.
I don’t think I can milk tonight.
Lying there, her first reaction was to make sure she had feeling in her fingers and toes and checked her head by running her tongue around her teeth. Her husband, Kevin was outside on the skid steer, wearing hearing protection and did not hear her calls for help right away. When the door to the milk house opened – Meg called and Kevin found her at the bottom of the pit. He helped her sit up, stand and eventually walk to the house. “I don’t think I can milk tonight,” Meg said.
In addition to a lot of bruising, she had upper back as well as shoulder pain when she saw her doctor the following day. By mid January, the shoulder was not getting better. An MRI showed that Meg had a torn rotator cuff and needed surgery. Surgery was in March 2020 and Meg is still working on building strength in the shoulder and arm. Another setback occurred when it was discovered that her left shoulder was most likely injured at that time and needed surgery as well, which occurred in June 2020.
It has been over six months since the fall and needless to say, Meg has been off duty from the milking parlor (and lots of other jobs on the farm), making sure her shoulders heal correctly. Meg’s advice is to pay attention to the little things – like a missing rubber foot on a ladder – which can be accomplished if we all took time to Stop Think Act.
- STOP long enough to think about what you’re about to do
- THINK about how you’re going to do it. Is it the safest way? If not, how can you do it better
- ACT in the safest way possible
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Farm Safety Check: Farm Buildings and Shops
Each farm operation is unique in the number and types of farm buildings and shops. These structures are crucial to farm operation, but may also pose potential safety risks. Farm workers and families spend a lot of time in these buildings and shops while performing daily tasks.
Meg Moynihan is a Senior Advisor for Strategy and Innovation for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and scans the horizon for opportunities where MDA can serve the agriculture community better. She is also a full time farmer which includes an organic dairy operation and understands first hand the hard work, stress and risks associated with farming. In 2017 she was instrumental in implementing the Down on the Farm series – presenting statewide to stakeholders on the serious economic situation facing farmers, the effects of anxiety, depression, suicide and how comunities can offer support.