There’s a coolness in the air, and leaves are starting to turn. The onset of fall weather means harvest season is upon us. During this time, farmers have much work to do in a short time. That sense of urgency can lead to accidents and damage that might otherwise have been prevented.
While we want you to accomplish your tasks efficiently, we’d like to ensure you do so safely. Therefore, we’ve compiled some recommended safety guidelines that should be useful reminders during your busy season.
Equipment and operator safety
Harvest inevitably means long hours spent behind the wheel of heavy machinery, and the safe completion of related tasks depends on both overall knowledge and attentiveness. It’s perfectly normal for us to take pride in our work, especially if that means putting in long hours in pursuit of a common goal. This is particularly evident in harvesting operations. Yet exhaustion and sickness regularly contribute to accidents in the field. It is important to recognize what your body is trying to tell you. If you aren’t feeling your best, consider turning the operation over to a trusted friend while you recover.
Keep in mind these safety tips:
- Take regular breaks to aid in divvying up the monotony of machinery operation.
- Turn off engines, remove keys and wait for all moving parts to stop before getting out of machinery.
- If you are going to eat in the field, climb down from the combine and relax for a little while.
- Dress with both comfort and safety in mind. Wear protective footwear and close-fitting clothes.
- Proper safety gear should be worn at all times around dangerous noise, dust or hazardous materials.
- Turn equipment off before making any repairs or adjustments.
- Do not remove safety shields, roll bars or guards. They are there to protect you.
Grain bin safety
Farm workers should all know the hazards of flowing grain and how to prevent a grain entrapment situation. When grain is being unloaded from the bottom of a bin, it flows downward from the top center, creating a funnel effect. If a person is on top of the grain in a bin being unloaded, they can be pulled into the flowing grain within a matter of seconds, likely rendering them helpless and potentially resulting in suffocation. Anybody who works with grain, in any capacity, must be aware of the dangers.
If you must enter a bin, it is vitally important to follow these safety precautions:
- Shut off and lock all unloading equipment before entering a bin.
- When possible, ladders should be installed inside grain bins as emergency exits.
- Avoid entering the bin when possible. A long pole can be used to break up crusted grain instead of having a worker enter the bin. Grain that has crusted can cover open spaces, which likely will not support the weight of a person.
- Wear a harness that is attached to a properly secured rope.
- Stay near the outer wall of the bin. If the grain starts to flow, move to the bin ladder or safety rope as quickly as possible.
- Never enter a bin alone. Have at least one person stand outside the bin, someone who can help you should you become entrapped. It is best to have two people available who are properly trained to follow all safety procedures for entering the bin.
- Wear a dust filter or filter respirator when working in a grain bin, especially while cleaning.
- Do not allow children to play in or around grain bins, wagons or truck beds.
Farm equipment road safety
If you need to drive your equipment on any roadways, you should consider the following safety tips:
- Increase visibility by using the equipment’s lights and flashers, especially during inclement weather or when light is low (early mornings and evenings).
- Avoid busy roads whenever possible.
- If there is a line of cars behind you and a suitable shoulder is available, pull over and allow traffic to pass before proceeding.
It is our hope that, by following these and other appropriate farm safety guidelines, you will have a productive and safe harvest not only this year, but for many years to come.