Farm work continues to be one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, farming is the 6th most dangerous occupation in America. Unfortunately, almost 58,000 adults are injured each year doing farm work and 29 are killed. Over the next few months, farmers will be working longer hours – starting their days before sunrise without resting until long after the sun sets. There will be slow moving tractors, oversized combines, and grain loaded trucks in the fields and on the country roads and also on heavily traveled roadways.
To ensure you and your favorite farmer are safe during the upcoming harvest, follow these farm safety tips:
MAINTAIN YOUR EQUIPMENT
Most farm accidents and deaths involve outdated machinery that lack safety features. Make sure your equipment is maintained according to the manufacturers’ recommendations to prevent rollovers and accidents. Have farm trucks serviced regularly. Conduct a safety check before taking the combine to the field.
BE ALERT ON THE ROAD
Most accidents happen at dawn or dusk, as they are commuting times for drivers. They happen most often when a driver attempts to pass a slow-moving vehicle, or does not realize a farmer is turning or stopping. Drivers need to allow adequate time and distance for farm equipment to make wide turns. Farm machinery typically travels at 25 mph or less, so drivers need to be prepared to slow down to avoid a rear-end collision. Drivers of farm equipment should turn on their flashing lights and use slow moving vehicle (SMV) signs to draw attention to equipment traveling at slow speeds. Be careful of soft edges on the roadway when moving over to allow vehicles to pass.
HAVE A PLAN FOR GRAIN BIN SAFETY
Train and educate farm workers on grain storage hazards and risks involved when entering a grain storage bin. Follow safe bin entry practices like Lock Out Tag Out and utilize a lifeline system. Have an emergency action plan in case an accident happens and make sure everyone on your farm is trained to follow it. There should always be a person outside the bin anytime someone is entering the bin.
GET PLENTY OF REST, EAT HEALTHY, AND TAKE BREAKS
Drink plenty of fluids and have healthy snacks on hand to keep your energy levels up. Don’t push yourself past healthy limits. Accidents are more likely to happen once fatigue sets in. Drive the combine only while you are alert and aware of your surroundings. Hours of steady operation can lull you into a hypnotic state. To avoid dangerous situations, schedule a break for all workers every two to three houses. Change jobs with someone else who can run the combine for awhile. Accidents are more likely to happen once fatigue or dehydration sets in.
TELL YOUR FAMILY & OTHERS WHERE YOU’LL BE WORKING AND WHEN
Keep the lines of communication open. Always have a cell phone on you in case of emergencies. Do your part to make this a safe and healthy harvest season.