National Farm Safety Week is September 21-27, 2014. Each year I try to have a news release timed with that occasion. Farming ranks behind mining with the second highest number of disabling and fatal incidents annually. Giving some reminders to coincide with this event seems like a prudent thing to do.
This harvest season, farmers should remember to follow basic safety rules because they could save lives. First, we all need to remember to SLOW DOWN. A large percentage of accidents can be avoided with more patience. Producers often will work for many hours, long into the night. While it is important to get in the crops, most farming accidents happen in the evening with fatalities peaking at 4 p.m. Here are some specific points for both farmers and the rest of us that are traveling through rural areas:
1) Consider the location of the sun. It’s really hard to see against a rising or setting sun. Consider this while traveling in rural areas during harvest.
2) Farmers need to be extra careful when working on farmsteads not to back over young people, or to come into contact with electrical lines. I’ve been aware of specific accidents where this happened, and they are very sad. Just be careful, as these accidents can be avoided.
3) Farmers also need to use common sense when around augers and PTO driven equipment. Rotating equipment can rip/wrap 4-8 feet of clothing per second. There is virtually no chance to escape injury or death if your clothes become caught in augers, belts, or PTO shafts.
4) On rural county roads motorists have to treat each hill like there will be a stopped combine just out of sight unloading into a truck or wagon. Farmers need to use lighting, reflectors and slow-moving vehicle signs when driving farm equipment on the road. Warning flashers should be used whenever a machine is operating or being driven on rural roads both day and night. Motorists should never assume that the road will be clear, especially during harvest season.
5) Due to the harvest – deer have lost most of their cover and their ‘homes’ for the summer. They’ve gotten spooked out of their normal routine and now are on the move. Everyone needs to be vigilant during this time of year for increased danger from hitting deer.
6) Be sure to have your equipment ready for harvest. Check wheel bearings, tire pressures, tie rods and other steering mechanisms, also check PTO shielding and have Slow Moving Vehicle signs mounted properly. This is especially important this year, as we are trying to prevent combine and field fires.
I realize most of what I’ve covered is common sense, but we need to be reminded during this busy time of year. I’ll finish by repeating my first caution - slow down! The life you save may be your own.
For more information or assistance, please contact Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator, Platte County Extension. Phone: 402-563-4901 or e-mail AVYHNALEK2@unl.edu