Weather conditions have finally improved enough to allow many farmers to begin harvesting their crops. While harvest is always a dangerous time of year, the unusual lateness of this season means safety is even more important than ever.
Already this fall, several serious fires have been reported at grain elevators throughout the Midwest.
Many factors contributed to these fires, but ultimately the unique combination of grain and equipment conditions led to these disasters.
Safety should not be an afterthought, according to Doug DeFilippo, GROWMARK safety services manager.
“The window of harvest opportunity is often short, but don’t take chances, short cuts, or rush unnecessarily to get the job done,” he said.
Fatigue plays a large part in accidents and injuries, so get as much rest as possible. Work in shifts, take a short meal break with your family, and know when to call it a night.
Inspect equipment regularly, and follow all manufacturer’s recommendations for operation, DeFilippo said. Make sure proper decals and equipment guards are properly mounted and fastened, and never work on a piece of machinery until it is properly shut down, locked out, and relieved of any built up energy.
Personal safety is also very important. Wear proper personal protective equipment, such as goggles, gloves, or masks when working with dangerous materials. Never enter a confined space without proper safety precautions, and be especially aware of eye safety.
“When you’re working under equipment and something might fall into your eye, or when you’re grinding, drilling, or hammering on materials that could fly up into your eye, wear eye protection to prevent serious damage or even loss of sight,” DeFilippo said.
Operate all machinery patiently and cautiously both in the field and on the road. Make sure all operators understand how to use the equipment properly and safely.
“Children under the age of 16 working on their own family farms are exempt from child labor laws,” DeFilippo said. “But if a farm child is asked to do a potentially hazardous job, make sure they know safety procedures and check to be sure all equipment is in safe working order.”