Updated June 4, 2016 . AmFam Team
You know your farm like the back of your hand. And, when it comes to protecting your livelihood, you know that safety is number one.
As a farmer, it’s important you’re aware of all the risks on your farm in order to promote and practice the best safety measures to keep you, your workers and your family safe. Keep safety a priority on your farm with these 11 tips.
Dress for success. Prepare yourself for the job at hand by choosing appropriate clothing and safety gear. If you’re using chemicals, use chemical respirators, wear proper gloves and protective clothing. When working with farm equipment, avoid wearing loose fitting clothes around moving parts, and if you’re around running machinery, wear hearing and eye protection. Don’t forget to always use masks to filter dust and mold.
Know your chemicals. It’s common for different chemicals and pesticides to be used on a farm. To stay safe, it’s important to know what you’re working with. There are courses you can take to learn safe handling of chemicals and pesticides. In fact, your state may require training and certification to lawfully perform this kind of work. Remember, chemicals can get into your body through skin, breathing, eyes or swallowing — so always be mindful and wear protective equipment when working with them.
Prepare for the road. If you’re driving farm equipment on public roads, it’s especially important that you’re clearly marked so motorists can see you in time to slow down — considering you’re probably driving less than 25 MPH. Make sure your lights are working and that all reflecting tape and slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblems are properly placed. Remember to wipe down some of these safety features if your equipment is dusty to ensure they can be seen.
Tractor safety. You might use your tractor more than any other equipment on the farm, so understanding the risks associated with this heavy-duty piece of equipment is extra important. Don’t start your tractor in a closed garage or shed, since carbon monoxide (CO) could cause harm to you or your animals. It’s important to keep it in a well-ventilated place and have open doors or windows when starting it. Make sure to wait for a hot engine to cool before re-fueling your tractor. And, remember, most tractors have one seat. This means one operator, so no extra riders (even kids) should be allowed in or on the tractor (unless it’s manufacture equipped with a second seat and seat belt).
Air it out. Be aware of silo gas when heading in to chop and place corn silage. Ventilate silo headspace at least 30 minutes before entering to remove concentrations of harmful — or lethal — gas. And never enter if alone! Methane gas, carbon dioxide, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide can form in unventilated grain silos and manure pits. This can poison you, cause suffocation or even explode. It’s worth it to slow down and take the time to prevent harmful damage.
Avoid electrical accidents. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to electricity. If you’re using tall equipment, be sure to look up to avoid overhead power lines. A current can even jump or arc across and make contact with your equipment, so stay at least ten feet away. And if a wire is hanging low or is on the ground, treat it as if it’s energized and avoid it. If someone comes in contact with an energized wire, make sure that you don’t touch that person until the power has turned off. They are now part of the pathway to the ground and could electrocute you.
Know your PTO. To stay safe when working with a Power Take Off, or PTO, on your farm, always disengage the PTO, turn off the engine and remove the keys before getting off the tractor. And never step across a rotating power shaft.
Stay protected from rollovers. To properly protect yourself in the event of a rollover, you’ll want to install a Retro-fit ROPS, a.k.a. a Rollover Protection Structure. Keep in mind, compared to the large field tractors, it’s the small utility tractors with the greatest number of overturns. So having proper protection in place and buckling up is your safest bet. On a similar note, to prevent a rollaway accident, always use wheel blocks when unhitching wagons or carts from a tractor.
Avoid grain entrapment. Grain handling in bins is routine during harvest, but if done in a hurry and without proper training, accidents can happen. Stay safe and avoid entrapment by following grain bin safety procedures. When entering a grain bin, always us an effective lifeline system, which includes a harness and anchored lifeline with a second person to monitor you when working in the grain bin.
Keep kids safe. The equipment and objects on your farm may look like a fun jungle gym to a child, but in reality they could cause serious injuries. Always go over the rules of the farm with a child. On top of that, make sure to follow these safety precautions:
Follow and keep up with the laws. Laws are put in place for a reason — to keep people safe. Make sure you’re keeping up with the changes to federal and state laws. Not only will you better protect you and the people on your farm, but you can avoid expensive fines.
Take care of yourself. One of the safest things you can do on the farm is to take care of yourself. Feeling fatigued while operating machinery can be dangerous. And if you’re not fully aware you can risk making costly mistakes. Make sure you’re taking breaks from work and getting the right amount of rest so you’re alert and on top of your game.
Maybe some of these tips were a refresher for practices you already put in place on your farm. Maybe you learned a thing or two that will help you prevent serious injuries. Either way, at American Family Insurance, we always want to make sure you’re getting the education you need to protect what matters most.
Don’t forget one of the most proactive ways to keep your farm safe from the unexpected — farm insurance. We’ll help you build a policy that’s as hardworking as you are. Connect with an agent (Opens in a new tab) to make sure you have proper coverage in place.