By Karen Johnson, Extension educator, University of Minnesota Extension – McLeod & Meeker counties
It’s National Farm Safety and Health Week. This year’s theme is “Farm Safety Yields Real Results.” This annual promotion initiated by the National Safety Council has been proclaimed as such by each sitting U.S. President since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944. National Farm Safety and Health Week is led by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS), the agricultural partner of the National Safety Council. Check out the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety website (www.necasag.org) to learn more about National Farm Safety and Health Week 2021.
The 2019 data for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 573 fatalities, or an equivalent of 23.1 deaths per 100,000 workers. Fall harvest time can be one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons of the year for the agriculture industry. Please take time to make this harvest the safest harvest yet.
Self-care is just as important as taking care of others. The first step in achieving this is to get enough sleep and rest. If you are in the tractor or combine all day, take some short breaks to refresh yourself. Always remember to stay hydrated and don’t skip meals. Quality meals and snacks are vital to keeping the body running properly. Finally, working at a reasonable pace will help to improve mental clarity and prevent slip-ups which in the end will slow you down. Tip – have a first aid kit available in your tractor and office – or where it is most handy for those moments of need.
Next are several suggestions for ways to stay safe around equipment this harvest season.
- Before operating, fully understand the equipment’s capabilities and hazard potential
- Use all modern safety features – such as Roll Over Protection Structures (ROPS), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and seat belts
- One Seat = One Person – Not only do extra riders distract the operator, there is no safe place in the majority of farm equipment for an additional person.
- Understand all laws of center of gravity and centrifugal force to prevent rollovers
- Follow all manufacturer’s recommendations for pulling equipment with the hitch and/ or using the hydraulic lifts on the equipment – including proper bucket position and hitch points
- Use handholds and care when getting on and off equipment to avoid slips and falls
- Ensure the equipment is properly maintained and cared for
In conclusion, by utilizing these suggestions on an everyday basis, you can provide a safe and healthy workplace for yourself and your workers. We all need to keep farm safety in mind to ensure that a severe or fatal injury never occurs on our farms. Be sure to check out the U of M Extension Farm Safety and Health YouTube channel for farm safety videos. Happy National Farm Safety and Health Week!