As the leaves begin to change color and the air turns crisp, it’s a clear sign that fall is upon us. For farmers, this season marks a busy period of harvesting crops and preparing for the winter months ahead. While fall harvest is an exciting time, it’s essential to prioritize safety on the farm to protect both your livelihood and your loved ones. As you hit the field, follow these crucial tips to ensure a safe and successful fall harvest:
One of the cornerstones of a safe harvest season is well-maintained equipment. Before the season begins, thoroughly inspect all your machinery, including tractors, combines, and harvesters. Look for signs of wear and tear, loose or damaged parts, and ensure that safety features such as seatbelts and roll bars are functioning correctly. Regular maintenance not only prevents accidents but also improves the efficiency of your equipment. Hopefully you’ve done this already! But, if you haven’t, contact our Ag Service Center in Lafayette to get your equipment into our shop – 507.228.8224.
Grain Bin Safety
In 2022, there were a total of 42 grain entrapment cases reported; the highest reported in over a decade (source: a report from Purdue University). Never enter a grain bin alone. Always have at least one other person with you when working in or around grain bins. Before entering a bin, make sure to shut down and lock out all equipment that could pose a risk. Ensure all farm workers involved in grain bin operations are properly trained and well educated on safety protocols. Last, never “walk down” grain in an attempt to break up clumps or dislodge struck grain.
Educate and Train
Training and education are key elements of farm safety. Ensure that all your farm workers are well-trained on the proper operation of machinery and the use of safety equipment. Conduct refresher courses if necessary, and emphasize the importance of following safety guidelines at all times. Familiarity with safety protocols can make a significant difference in preventing accidents.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Farm work often involves exposure to various hazards, from sharp objects to extreme weather conditions. It’s crucial to wear appropriate, high visibility clothing to reduce the risk of injury. This may include sturdy work boots, gloves, safety goggles, and ear protection. Dressing for the job can help protect against unexpected accidents.
Watch for Hazards
Fallen leaves, wet fields, and uneven terrain can create hazards during harvest season. Be vigilant and watch out for potential dangers, such as hidden rocks, ditches, or holes. Slow down when driving machinery and pay extra attention to your surroundings. Simple precautions like this can prevent accidents and equipment damage.
Long hours and physically demanding work can lead to fatigue, which increases the risk of accidents. Ensure that everyone working on the farm gets adequate rest and takes regular breaks. Fatigue can impair decision-making and reaction times, so it’s essential to prioritize rest and mental alertness during harvest season.
Keep Children and Visitors Safe
If your farm attracts visitors or has children around during harvest, take extra precautions to ensure their safety. Create designated areas for visitors and kids, away from active machinery and work zones. Educate children and non-farm personnel about the dangers of farm equipment and the importance of staying clear of working areas.
No matter how careful you are, accidents can still happen. Have a well-stocked first-aid kit readily available on the farm and ensure that all workers know its location. Additionally, have a plan in place for emergencies, including contact information for medical services and local authorities. Fall harvest is a beautiful and productive time of year, but it also comes with its share of risks. Prioritizing safety on your farm is not just about protecting your livelihood; it’s about safeguarding the well-being of everyone involved. By maintaining equipment, providing proper training, wearing appropriate clothing, and remaining vigilant for hazards, you can enjoy a safe and successful fall harvest season for years to come.