Ian Mickel is just glad it was his left hand in the firing line. 

Key points:

  • The 2021 harvest got underway this week with a delivery to CBH Group’s Geraldton Port Terminal
  • Esperance Shire President Ian Mickel is urging all involved to put safety first, after losing a finger in a farming accident last week
  • Safety concerns have been raised as workforce shortages put the sector under extra pressure to harvest a forecast record crop

The Esperance Shire President is recovering after a farming accident last week saw most of his left middle finger amputated and his pointer finger placed in a cast.

But with the 2021 harvest now officially underway, he believes the injury could serve as a timely reminder to others.

Safety was already a concern for many in the industry, with some saying worker shortages and the forecast record-breaking crop are likely to put farm workers under extra pressure and possibly lead to safety lapses.

“I guess the message from my accident is just to take that time, look, prepare, look at where the risks are,” Cr Mickel said.

“I’m guilty of rushing this job … I think that’s one of the things that contributed to it.

It was just before lunchtime last Thursday when Cr Mickel and two farm workers were pulling the parts out of a grain auger — a piece of farm machinery used to transfer grain.

Grain leaving auger

Freshly stripped grain spills from the auger into a waiting truck(

Laurissa Smith: ABC Rural

)

The tool consists of a spiral shaft inside a piece of tube, and somewhere in the process of extracting the parts, Cr Mickel’s fingers “got in the road”.

“I can’t work out why my hand was where it was,” he said.

“Fingers have got so many nerves — it was pretty painful stuff.”

Cr Mickel’s property at Beaumont is more than 130 kilometres from Esperance, so after finding a car with enough fuel in it and wrapping his hand in padding, a farm worker drove Cr Mickel to the Esperance Hospital.

“From there on, it was great and excellent service,” he said. “They were all [the medical staff] just so kind.”

‘I’ve got a pretty interesting hand’

A close up picture of his hand, with one finger bandaged, one in a cast and one shorter than it should be

Ian Mickel lost a finger last week and injured another. He lost part of his ring finger when he was five. (

ABC News: Emily Smith

)

Doctors and nurses in Esperance cleaned up Cr Mickel’s hand, before the Royal Flying Doctor Service  transported him to Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth.

Cr Mickel says doctors are hoping his pointer finger can be saved, but much of his middle finger had to be amputated.

Cr Mickel, who admits he has a “pretty interesting hand,” said the medical staff were amused to learn it was not the first time he had cut his own fingers off.

He spent his 5th birthday in hospital after losing the top of the fourth finger on his left hand to another piece of farm machinery.

“Once again I don’t remember a lot about it,” he said.

But while he was able to laugh at his own bad luck, he was concerned for other farm workers as harvest got underway, and urged them to learn from his mistake. 

“I’m a very lucky person because it could have been a lot worse,” he said.

Ian Mickel shakes a lot of hands in his job; luckily it was his left one in the firing line last week
Source:
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