Fall harvest has started on some farms and will be going in full force very soon.
A number of factors, including heavy equipment, moving parts, long hours, fatigue, and a poor diet are common this time of year.
These factors make agriculture one of the most dangerous occupations.
Safety tips for harvest season
Dawn Milhalvoc-Bayer, physician assistant at the Mayo Clinic, offers the following safety suggestions.
Turn equipment off before making repairs or adjustments. Do not reach into equipment while parts are moving.
Do not remove safety shields, roll bars or guards.
Avoid wearing baggy clothing, loose jewelry or long hair near moving equipment.
Use safety glasses, noise protection and other precautions, including masks, when using chemicals and pesticides.
Never leave running equipment unattended.
Pay attention to all safety information. Read the operator’s manual and warning decals.
Inspect the equipment, and correct any hazards before operating.
Identify hazardous areas on equipment, and make sure you stay away from moving parts. Beware of pinch points, shear points, wrap points, pull-in areas, thrown objects, crush points, stored energy hazards and freewheeling parts.
Shut down equipment, turn off the engine, remove key and wait for moving parts to stop before dismounting equipment.
Keep bystanders and others away from equipment operation area.
When on the road, make yourself easy for drivers to see by using the equipment’s lights and flashers, especially in the early mornings and evenings.
Drive at speeds that will allow you to maintain control at all times.
Avoid busy roads when possible.
If there is a line of cars behind you and a suitable shoulder is available, pull over and allow traffic to pass.
Stay alert for hazards, such as soft shoulders, narrow bridges, loose gravel, bumps, potholes, and deep ruts.
You, or someone you know, may have experienced a close call at one time or another while operating machinery.
Data collected by the Ohio State University Extension Ag Safety and Health Program shows that 168 people have been killed on Ohio farms from 2004-2013.
Over that 10-year period, 75 of the 168 fatalities involved a tractor rollover.
Not surprising, harvest is one of the times of the year when farm fatalities increase.
How can you create and maintain a safe work environment for you, your family, and employees?
Dr. Bernie Erven, professor-emeritus, and Ohio State University Extension specialist offers the following.
– Create a culture of safety values. Talk frequently about safety, emphasize the importance of safety, and lead by example.
– Training is essential. Some training will require more time while others may be addressed in a less formal setting.
One technique is called “spot training” where quick safety lessons are given at the time and place of a task that has special hazards involved.
Ohio State University Extension has a number of “Tailgate Safety Training” resources available. Copies can be found at agsafety.osu.edu/programs/cfaes-osha/tailgate-safety-training-employees.
– Make sure workers know how to perform their job safely. Working safely is more important than working quickly.
– Involve everyone in finding and reducing hazards. Get everyone in the habit of doing one of two things when they observe any situation that may be hazardous — repair it or report it.
– Use progressive discipline to enforce safety. When hazardous practices are observed, they demand immediate attention to minimize the chances of that practice becoming a bad habit.
Safety is critically important for everyone involved in your farm. Make everyone a partner in creating and maintaining a safe work environment.
Doing so will decrease lost work time and help with employee satisfaction.
Have a safe harvest!
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