Last week we recognized National Farm Safety Week—but Nebraska Corn emphasizes that farm safety is a priority that should be recognized every day. Agriculture remains one of the more dangerous occupations in North America, and this is especially true during the busy harvest season. The urgency to get the crop out of the field in a timely manner, can lead to more accidents during harvest than at any other time during the year.
“There are a lot of moving parts during harvest. We are all working long hours under the stress of weather delays and equipment breakdowns—and that can lead to fatigue,” said Dave Merrell, farmer from St. Edward, Nebraska and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “That is why it’s a good reminder to be proactive and take the extra second to exercise caution, get plenty of rest and make safety-first decisions to keep things safe on the farm for everyone.”
This reminder isn’t just for farmers alone, added Merrell. He also cautioned motorists driving on rural roads to use extra caution during harvest. These roads see additional traffic during harvest, which increases the chances for accidents to occur between slower moving farm equipment and vehicles moving at faster speeds. Rural intersections will have heavier-than-normal travel and dusty conditions may limit visibility, as can sun glare in the morning and evening. Standing crops in the field may also block a clear view of oncoming traffic.
Nebraska Corn encourages farmers to pay special attention to the safety features of their equipment, and encourages everyone to keep an eye toward safety on the highways and byways this harvest and year round.
“Harvest and fall field work is truly a thrill for Nebraska farmers, but it’s important that we stay focused and take care of ourselves during this fast-paced time of year,” said Larry Mussack, farmer from Decatur, Nebraska and president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “During long stretches of work, it’s important that you take short breaks, get enough sleep and eat healthy. This will keep things safe around the farm for everyone, including family members and employees helping to harvest the crop.”
Some things to consider for farmers and farm workers while on the farm this fall:
- Stay alert. Take breaks to help avoid fatigue — get out of the cab and walk around every few hours. Keep your cell phone charged so you can communicate as needed with family members and employees.
- Use extra caution around PTO’s. Check that PTOs are well protected to avoid contact with clothing or people during operation. And never step over a rotating PTO—a few extra steps to walk around the tractor are worth the effort.
- Shut down before working on a machine. If the combine becomes clogged, shut off the motor, not just the header, before attempting to unplug it by hand.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Know where your co-workers and family members are at all times and always be aware of power lines that you can come in contact with while moving equipment and augers around grain bins. Visibility can be especially poor around large machinery and at night.
- Grain Bin/Handling Safety. Grain bins deserve special attention and caution when grain is being loaded and removed. Never stand on grain that is being or has been moved. Safety measures should be put in place to avoid any risk of entrapment and suffocation.
- Move Machinery Safely. Make sure your Slow Moving Vehicle emblems are in good condition and properly mounted. If you must move machinery on a roadway after dark, have all necessary working headlights and flashing front and rear warning lights. The better you can be seen the less likely you are to be hit by motorists.
- Develop Safety Rules. Have a set of safety rules for everyone to follow – and enforce them. Protective eye and ear wear is important in many situations. It is also important to equip tractors and combines with a fire extinguisher, as dry crop residue is fuel for a fire. Finally, ensure that trained family members and employees are operating powerful equipment—if kids want to be involved, give them age appropriate jobs.