Working in agriculture can be exhausting, difficult and dangerous — especially during harvest season. Taking a few extra minutes to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you can make all the difference in the world. Here’s what to think about:
- Only allow properly trained personnel to operate machinery — ensure that your training and that of your co-workers and employees is comprehensive and up-to-date. This is especially important for machinery that you only use seasonally; it may be beneficial for everyone to refresh themselves on operating that piece of equipment.
- Make sure everyone working on your land knows the legal land descriptions for fields and yards in case of an emergency.
- Encourage first-aid training in the event that something does happen and someone needs care right away.
- Ensure that everyone knows where first-aid kits and fire extinguishers are located — and how to use them.
- Collect emergency contact information for everyone who does work with your agriculture business.
- Keep a supply of PPE and well-maintained tools accessible for everyone who is part of your agriculture business.
- Consider purchasing spare parts for critical equipment.
- Make certain you have proper lighting in sheds, barns and yards.
- If working alone, tell someone where you will be and when you plan to be back. Carry some way to communicate (a phone or a two-way radio).
- Teach children to stay away from operating machinery and grain bins.
- Always supervise older children as they learn about your machinery and begin helping with the harvest.
Practice Maintenance Safety
- Perform operational checks regularly, including looking for wiring damage. Refer to your operator’s manual for maintenance guidance.
- Check that all emergency stop buttons are functioning and accessible.
- Fix any broken railings, ladders or platforms as soon as possible.
- Keep walkways, platforms and work areas clean and free of obstacles.
- Check the lights on your machinery so that when you’re on the road, other drivers can tell that you are in a large, slow-moving piece of equipment.
- Remove dust and buildup from machinery and check bearings regularly to prevent overheating.
- Inspect tires and replace any that are worn or cracked.
- When working under machinery, always use a safety prop.
Use Equipment Safely
- Always ensure that the person operating machinery can see you approach. Do so slowly and from the front, making eye contact with the operator.
- Make sure all machinery is fully stopped when you climb on or off.
- Stay away from machinery in operation.
- Avoid pinch points between machinery where visibility is low.
- Monitor grain wagon weight to ensure it doesn’t exceed the limit and be sure to evenly disperse the weight to avoid instability.
- Don’t try to unplug equipment without removing it from all power sources.
- Never pull anything out of a plugged machine while in operation.
- Allow engines to cool before you refuel and use blocks if the equipment could roll.
- When working in a grain bin, wear a harness attached to a secure rope, work with others and wear a dust mask or respirator. Stay out when equipment is running.
- Keep all shields and safety equipment in place.
- Never leave running equipment unattended.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
- Get enough sleep and take breaks when needed; get out and walk around frequently and consider rotating tasks every few hours to help stay alert. Stay hydrated.
- Be aware of how medications and substances may impact your ability to operate machinery.
- Be cautious in situations where a fall is possible (wet or slippery conditions, climbing into and out of machinery) and always mount/dismount properly using grab bars.
- Watch for power lines and tree limbs; use a spotter if you’re near potential hazards.
- Wear clothing that fits well — baggy clothing is more easily caught in machinery – and ensure you have proper non-slip, closed-toe footwear.
An important aspect of farm safety is ensuring that everyone on the farm complies. Set an example for your family, co-workers and employees by making safety your top priority.
Unfortunately, despite all your preparation, accidents do happen. Be sure that your agricultural business is protected. Your local Farm Bureau agent is here to talk through your needs and help you obtain the coverage you’re looking for.