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updated: 3/17/2014 7:14 AM

Injured Illinois farmer guides agriculture safety

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Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN -- A former farmer who lost both of his legs in a hay baling accident more than 35 years ago now uses his experience to help others.

Robert "Chip" Petrea is a principal research specialist at the University of Illinois focusing on agriculture safety and health. He studies why farm injuries happen and helps injured farmers adapt, The News-Gazette reported Sunday.

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He said many farmers want to continue farming right away after an injury.

"As far as people continuing on, farmers farm because they want to," Petrea said.

Petrea lost both of his legs above the knee while baling hay in south-central Illinois in 1978. He went on to earn both his master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois.

Part of his job includes evaluating the national Teaching Ag Safety to Kids program, and he has worked with the Illinois AgrAbility Unlimited program for disabled farmers. He also has led a W.K. Kellogg Foundation community development program.

Petrea said he thinks increasing regulation on smaller farms would help eliminate unsafe farming practices.

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