As spring’s work begins, one of the areas we tend to have good intentions about practicing is farm safety, but sometimes our good intentions get set aside. I realize this is not intentional, but we should make an extra effort to not only think about it, but also practice it.
Let me ask you, “How many people do you know that are missing a limb or an appendage, such as a finger, or have had some sort of farm accident?” Oftentimes in a rural community such as ours we can name several people. Please remember that no one plans to have an accident – they just happen. While only the use of a crystal ball could do away with accidents completely, many accidents that occur on farms can be prevented if people take the time to protect themselves from the unexpected.
Even though today’s farm equipment is the safest ever from an engineering standpoint, we still need to follow some basic guidelines when operating this equipment.
- Follow operating, maintenance and safety instructions in your operator’s manual. Review them periodically.
- Be personally fit and ready for a safe day at the wheel. Take occasional breaks to reduce fatigue.
- Dress appropriately for weather and working conditions, including personal protective gear such as a bump cap, gloves, safety shoes, ear plugs, respirators, and safety glasses.
- Make sure all equipment operators are well trained and competent.
- Do NOT allow extra riders on equipment.
- Keep all shielding in place and considering purchasing a roll-over protection system (ROPS) if the tractor is not already equipped with a ROPS or cab. Make certain hydraulic lines are properly connected and leak free.
- Stop the power before unclogging or fixing a power-driven machine.
- Match ground speed to operating conditions. Watch where you are going. Avoid obstacles, ditches and steep slopes.
- Watch for overhead power lines.
- When on the road, use your flashing lights. Make sure the slow-moving emblem is clean and visible. Obey all traffic rules. This includes NOT texting or using your personal smart phone for emailing or using apps, while driving equipment down roads.
- Take the time to transport large equipment down public roads in an appropriate manner.
- Turn off the engine before refueling. Do NOT smoke around hazardous chemicals.
- When parking, set brakes, shift into “park” or “neutral” and take the key with you.
- Make sure there is a working fire extinguisher and first aid kit on your operating equipment.
- Watch out for the children on the farm yard. Make sure they understand NOT to play around equipment. In addition, we should also make an extra effort to know where they are at on the farm at ALL times.
I realize there are many more safety tips that we could have gone over. However, these tips can be applied to a large portion of the farm equipment used today and hopefully, they will remind you to think “safety” this spring.