One of the most hazardous industries in the United States is agriculture. As a result, many injuries and illnesses occur to farmers and ranchers almost everyday across the nation. Farmers and ranchers, and the general public are injured when agricultural machinery is involved in roadway incidents. To increase the awareness of the limitations of agricultural machinery in traveling speed and maneuverability the National Safety Council will observe the National Farm Safety and Health Week focusing on this issue from September 15th to the 21st. The theme for this year is: "Farm Safety and Health Week...Not Just for Farmers Anymore." Farm safety information is available at the National Safety Council (http://www.nsc.org) or the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety at 1-888-844-6322.
When it's harvest time, the pressure is on! Good weather and daylight hours always seem to be at a premium when trying to gather nature's bounty in top condition. Planned maintenance and skilled equipment operator can minimize downtime and reduce potential for mishaps during harvest.
The most severe farm accidents often involve machinery. Missing guards and shields, failure to recognize hazards, and careless operators are common factors in the majority of farm equipment related injuries.
A recent study on harvest equipment such as; combines, threshers, and hay-processing equipment account for close to 5% of the injuries occurring to children up to 19 years old. Among these, children ages 5-9 were found to be at the greatest risk with over 6% of the total farm related injuries to this age group being caused by farm machinery.
Manufacturers build more safety features into equipment today than ever before. Some potential hazards can't be completely eliminated without interfering with machine function. For example, if the blades on a rotary mower were completely shielded, they would not cut.
Safe completion of any task depends on knowledge, alertness, and safety awareness. It's natural for anyone to take pride in our ability to work long hours in pursuit of a goal. Nowhere is this more evident than during harvest season. However, fatigue, drowsiness, and illness frequently contribute to accidents in the field.
Here are a few things that will help make your harvest season a safe one for the entire family:
- Carry out preseason maintenance and repair several weeks before.
- Clear plugged equipment only after the power is turned off.
- All guards and shields should be secured before equipment is started.
- Wear comfortable close-fitting clothing, including sturdy, protective shoes.
- Kids are a "no-no" around machinery. Far too many tragedies occur when youngsters end up in the path of equipment from which the operator's view is blocked.
- Always let someone know where you are. Check in regularly. Take a fully charged cell phone or two-way radio with you.
- Keep children off grain transportation equipment.
- Avoid sleep deprivation and extreme physical exhaustion.
- Drugs and alcohol impede safety.
Harvest can be a productive and prosperous time, make it a safe one too.