This time of year, we’re all busy trying to get the crops in before snow flies, and get the farmstead buttoned up before winter sets in. Safety is always a number one concern, no matter the task at hand.
Have regular safety meetings with your staff- during this time of year, your whole family and staff are on board to help out, because you’ve been looking forward to this all year. Take some time on rainy days or during harvest prep to go over what your expectations are regarding safety- be it as nominal as proper attire, checking equipment daily, or safe road operation. This can prove valuable to your operation by helping equipment last longer and building a stronger relationship with your employees.
Develop a working harvest plan- day to day operations can be dizzying to keep up with, so having a guideline with goals to work towards helps to keep the focus on the task at hand and relieve mental stress. Set goals for the pace at which you would like to work at, in acres per day or have a crop done by x date.
Designate specialists for tasks- A career truck driver may not be the best fit for operating the chopper, so train your employees and family to specialize in their tasks. By knowing their task inside and out, they are able to carry out the task safely and timely. Make sure they have the proper training, or find where they can get it before designating them to a spot.
Check safety devices on equipment- lights, SMV signs, shields and seatbelts are all examples of safety equipment that is often in disorder. Being able to see and be seen on the road are paramount, so flashers that display the full width of your equipment and lights should be on the top of this list. You can get flashing lights to put on older equipment that is magnetic and can be moved to different pieces. PTO and chain shields are put in place for a reason, so as to prohibit entanglement. There has been a direct decrease in farm accidents since safety shields, ROPS, and hazard lights were put in place on equipment, and that is no accident.
Storage areas- Grain and silage storage areas can have hazards of their own, and any personnel that will be on the premises should have knowledge of the hazards associated with storage. Forage can emit poisonous gasses that can sicken or kill people in a very short time. before entering a silo, start the forage blower for added fresh air to dispel any silo gas. Close silage bags and cover bunks as quickly as possible and let them ferment properly before opening, so that there is a reduced chance of noxious gasses. Grain storage has its own risks, with flammable grain dust coating surrounding surfaces, respirators need to be worn when working around this dust as well to avoid long term issues such as Farmer’s lung or short term health affects like plugged sinuses and headaches. Do not enter grain storage areas, since you can become entrapped in free flowing grain. Should you absolutely need to enter, wear a harness, and ensure to have a person outside keep an eye on you.
By being safety conscious around the farm, we can help to mitigate farm accidents, and see harvest for what it truly is- the best time of year on the farm, when you can see the product of your toil.
If you have questions or need more information about farm safety please feel free to contact me directly at 315-893-7790.