By early June, it is estimated that 40-60% of the first cutting hay crop in Ohio will be harvested. This provides a good time for hay producers to complete some preventative maintenance tasks, and communicate safety considerations with employees. Younger or less experienced employees may not know how to safely complete tasks that some experienced operators would consider 'common sense'.

Hay crops are often grown on ground too rough, steep or unsuitable for row crops. Taking safe measures in these areas is especially significant for safe operation. It is important to take the time to discuss with employees how to accomplish work objectives safely (get it done, but do it safely).

Usually baling must be done quickly and efficiently. Changing weather conditions can devalue the crop. However, no crop, no matter how large or valuable is worth an unnecessary injury or death. Careless operation that saves time but endangers workers is foolish. Be sure to communicate safe practices on a DAILY BASIS (we all need reminded), slow down and use 'common sense'.

Following preventative maintenance suggestions can reduce stress from down time and ensure safe working conditions for employees. Consider these aspects when completing maintenance:

* Replace broken or worn parts:

- A baler with broken or missing pick-up tines, loose belts/chains, and other damaged parts will not feed material properly into the bale chamber.

- Bent or loose blades on rotary cutters are more prone to thrown objects.

- Ensure proper clearance between crimping rollers on mower conditioners.

* Always lubricate sprockets and chains when the machine is turned off.

* Whether in the shop or out in the field, always ensure the PTO is disengaged and the engine shut off before dismounting to service or adjust the equipment.

- With mowers and square bales, wait until all components have stopped moving.

* Always lock and block the rear gate if you must be underneath it.

* Be prepared for a fire. Carry a Class ABC fire extinguisher on ALL tractors. Ensure that all are charged and in working order.

* Keep all shields and safety guards in place. Replace immediately after maintenance is complete (don't wait until you are ready to go to the field).

Summer also provides some great opportunities for youth to get involved in tasks around the farm. Employers should be aware that youth 14 years of age and younger are not legally permitted to operate tractors and machinery UNLESS doing so for their parent/guardian OR after successfully completing a tractor and machinery certification program:

Source: Ohio Beef Cattle Letter