UNL CropWatch Aug. 27, 2010: Harvest Safety Reminders

UNL CropWatch Aug. 27, 2010: Harvest Safety Reminders

August 27, 2010

Harvest will soon be underway and farmers will be in one of their busiest times of the year. Long hours and dangerous working conditions are accepted as a normal part of a farmer’s life, but no one should become a statistic for the sake of getting done a day or two earlier.

Safety Tips for Farmers

  • Photo - Grain truck & auger

    Farmers are encouraged to be especially mindful of their safety during the rush of harvest.  (IANR Photo by Brett Hampton)

  • Stay alert. Take breaks -- get out of the cab and walk around every few hours.
  • Shut down the machine before working on it. If the combine becomes clogged, shut off the motor, not just the header, before attempting to unplug it by hand.
  • Know where your co-workers are. Visibility is poor around large machinery. Many deaths are the result of bystanders being run over or crushed between machines.
  • Never trust hydraulic systems when working under a machine. Always use a safety prop if you must work under a header or other heavy machinery.
  • Never step over a rotating PTO. The few extra steps you save by not walking around the tractor aren’t worth losing your life.
  • Never stand on grain that is being moved. Every year people “drown” in grain carts and grain bins that are being emptied.
  • Keep grain auger grates and shields in place. Protect your hands and feet.
  • If you must move machinery on a roadway after dark, have working headlights and flashing front and rear warning lights.
  • Always display the reflective, triangular slow-moving vehicle emblem on all tractors, combines, grain carts, and other farm machinery when driven or pulled on public roadways.

Safety Tips for Rural Residents

  • Remember to be watchful on county roads during harvest. A car going 50 mph coming up behind a farm implement moving at 15 mph closes at a rate of over 50 feet per second.
  • Don’t pull out in front of farm vehicles. Heavily loaded trucks and grain trailers can’t stop as quickly as a passenger car.
  • Watch out! Trucks and farm equipment may be entering the roadway from field lanes in places where you wouldn’t normally expect them.
  • Give them room. Eight-row headers are nearly 25 feet wide and 12-row headers are nearly 35 feet wide. These take up nearly all of a roadway. When overtaking a combine, give the farmer time to see you and to find a safe place where he/she can pull over and make room for you to pass. Never attempt to pass a wide farm machine until the driver is aware of your presence.
  • Never try to pass a combine or other implement on the shoulder of the road. If you hit a washout or hidden culvert, you could roll the vehicle.
  • Harvest activity can disturb deer, causing them to be on the move during times of the day they are usually lying down. Be especially alert for deer during harvest.

Tom Dorn
Extension Educator, Lancaster County