During harvest, there is pressure to get the crops out as soon as possible. Fall harvest can be the busiest and most dangerous season of the year for the agriculture industry. As a farmer, you must be aware of all the risks on your farm to promote and practice the best safety measures to keep you, your workers, and your family safe.
September 17-23, 2023 is National Farm Safety and Health Week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries, and farmers are at very high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries.
Here are some tips to help keep you safe:
- If you feel fatigued, take a break or stop. It’s easy to want to push on, even when you’re tired. But, if you’re fatigued, you’re more likely to take shortcuts and risk injuring yourself or others. Feeling fatigued while operating machinery can be dangerous. And if you’re not fully aware you can risk making costly mistakes. Make sure you’re taking breaks from work and getting the right amount of rest so you’re alert and on top of your game. Don’t turn to extra cups of coffee or sugary caffeinated drinks either. It’s best to stick to a healthy diet and give your body the rest it needs when it needs it.
- Know the 911 emergency address for each field you are working in.
- Train new employees or seasonal workers. It’s easy to invite your neighbor over to hop on a tractor and help out with the farm chores, especially when time is tight. But you shouldn’t let anyone on a tractor, or use any farm equipment, without some training. A lack of training is dangerous not only for the inexperienced person but for everyone else working.
- Use caution around grain bins. Grain handling in bins is routine during harvest, but if done in a hurry and without proper training, accidents can happen. Never enter a grain bin alone. When entering a grain bin, always use an effective lifeline system, which includes a harness and anchored lifeline with a second person to monitor you when working in the grain bin. Wear an appropriate dust mask or respirator while in the grain bins because of the substantial amounts of dust that could cause difficulty in breathing
- Use caution to avoid machine entanglement dangers. Machinery entanglements are the leading cause of injury and death on the farm. Do everything you can do to prevent it – including guarding or shielding all moving parts on machinery, and keeping bystanders and children away.
- Avoid electrical accidents. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to electricity. If your equipment makes contact with an energized or downed power line, contact your public power district immediately and remain inside the vehicle until the power line is de-energized. In case of smoke or fire, exit the cab by making a solid jump out of the cab, without touching it at the same time, and hop away to safety.
- Keep kids safe. The equipment and objects on your farm may look like a fun jungle gym to a child, but in reality, they can cause serious injuries. Always go over the rules of the farm with children.
As a farmer, you are feeding the world, and staying safe to do that is important. But more than that – you are our family, neighbor, and friend, and that makes you irreplaceable!
Have a great harvest, and stay safe!