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Spring Equipment Safety

Source: Karen Johnson, University of Minnesota Extension Educator

Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that the wet, chilly weather will come to an end so spring planting can begin. As we eagerly await the opportunity into the fields, now is an excellent time to think about the best ways to be safe around your farm this planting season.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Agriculture continues to rank amongst the most hazardous industries. Approximately, 417 farmers and farm workers died from work-related injury in 2016, resulting in a fatality rate of 21.4 deaths per 100,000 workers. Transportation incidents including tractor overturns was the leading cause of death for farmers and farm workers. Approximately 100 agricultural workers suffer lost work-time injury every day. Just another reason why farm safety needs to be practiced every day to prevent serious or fatal injuries on our farms.

The first step of creating a safe environment on your farm is to take care of yourself before taking care of others. This can be done by doing your best to get enough sleep and rest. If you are in the tractor or combine all day, take some short breaks to refresh yourself. Always remember to stay hydrated and don’t skip meals. Quality meals and snacks are vital to keeping the body running properly. Finally, working at a reasonable pace will help to improve mental clarity and prevent slip-ups which in the end will slow you down.  Tip – have a first aid kit available in your tractor and office – or where it is most handy for those moments of need.

Next are several suggestions for ways to stay safe around equipment this planting season.

  • Before operating, fully understand the equipment’s capabilities and hazard potential
  • Use all modern safety features – such as Roll Over Protection Structures (ROPS), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and seat belts
  • One Seat = One Person – Not only do extra riders distract the operator, there is no safe place in the majority of farm equipment for an additional person
  • Understand all laws of center of gravity and centrifugal force to prevent rollovers
  • Follow all manufacturer’s recommendations for pulling equipment with the hitch and/or using the hydraulic lifts on the equipment – including proper bucket position and hitch points
  • When operating a tractor on a public road, follow all state laws, properly display the Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem and utilize flashing hazard lights and reflectors visible from both the front and rear of the implement
  • Use handholds and care when getting on and off equipment to avoid slips and falls
  • Ensure the equipment is properly maintained and cared for

In conclusion, by utilizing these suggestions on an everyday basis, you can provide a safe and healthy workplace for yourself and your workers. We all need to keep farm safety in mind to ensure that a severe or fatal injury never occurs on our farms.