Farm Safety: Tips to Keep You Safe on Your Operation
4 August 2017
With harvest under way in some parts of the United States, the week of September 17-23 is recognized as “National Farm Safety and Health Week”. The theme this year is “Putting Farm Safety into Practice”. On the third week of September every year since 1944, farmers are reminded of the importance of safety in the field. Most farm-related accidents occur during fall harvest than any other time of the year. To promote this week of safety, we have a few tips to keep you safe during harvest.
1. Tractor Safety- Tractor rollovers are the deadliest type of accident on farms in the United States. New tractors must have rollover protective structures (ROPS). Always hitch to the rear hitch points on a tractor and be careful on inclined surfaces. Do not bypass start a tractor or other piece of equipment. When you bypass start a tractor, you’re bypassing all the safety-start and neutral-start switches. Make sure you maintain field rows to reduce the risk of rollover. Read all of the operator manuals and become familiar with the equipment before operating it.
2. Proper Attire- Loose clothing can cause injury when operating equipment. Most equipment has sharp edges that can easily catch clothing. It’s important to wear tight fitting clothes and keep cuffs buttoned and shirts tucked in. Remove jewelry and keep long hair up and out of the way.
3. Grain Bins and Silos-Sometimes overlooked on farms, there are safety issues to consider with grain bins and silos. Some of the risks are suffocation, engulfment hazards, grain dust exposure, and explosions. Never enter a grain bin when the grain is or has been removed. If you must enter the bin, make sure the unloading auger is shut off and locked and you have a method of communication with someone on the outside of the bin. Always keep protective screens or covers on all grain augers.
4. Learn the Three Es Approach- education, engineering, and enforcement. Educate everyone on the safe way to work on the farm and attend any training programs that are offered. With engineering, keep shields and guards in place and install ROPS and seatbelts on all open-stationed farm tractors. It’s a good idea to have rules in place and enforce them so no accidents occur.
5. Heat Stress- Heat-related illnesses can be deadly. Every year thousands of workers become sick from exposure to heat. It’s important to know the difference between heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Consider these prevention methods. Adjust to working in the heat over a period of one to two weeks. Drinks lots of water before, during, and after work. If applying pesticides, wear a cooling vest under your PPE and spray at night or in the early morning. Just remember water, rest, and shade.
We hope these practices will help you prepare for harvest on your operation. If you apply these and other safety practices into your daily routine, the likelihood of an accident happening on your operation would be lower.