This harvest season, safety should be a priority within the farm operation. Consider that it is a time that involves long hours and the need for multiple pieces of farm equipment working simultaneously to complete a crop harvest.
The continuous activity, diminished daylight and stresses that can be associated with harvest can often lead to agricultural-related injuries. Common injuries during fall harvest include slips, trips and falls; blunt trauma incidents; sprains and strains; and injuries due to fatigue.
Some simple ways to reduce the risk of an injury during harvest include:
- To reduce fatigue, try to get enough sleep. This is your body’s time to rest.
- Set a realistic pace for yourself, and plan out your day’s activities.
- Take short breaks throughout the day. Get out of the combine or truck for a few minutes, and do something to get away from the equipment and revitalize.
- Follow the procedures in the operator’s manual of equipment for safe operation, maintenance, and trouble shooting
- Keep equipment properly maintained and check all guards are in position and correctly fitted before starting work.
- Ensure equipment has adequate lighting for working in the dark. Increase caution when working in early morning or late evening when daylight is diminished.
- Maintain 3 points of contact when mounting or dismounting equipment: (1 hand and 2 feet) or (2 hands and 1 foot)
- Ensure that hand holds or railings are in safe operating condition.
- Exercise caution when steps or walking surfaces are wet or dirty.
- Avoid jumping off of the last step and anticipate changes in ground elevation or rough terrain when dismounting from the last step.
- Be alert to your surroundings. Know where equipment is being positioned and be observant to individuals who may be walking around equipment.
- When working with others around equipment, maintain eye contact and communicate your intentions with the other person.
- Use Personal Protective Equipment when appropriate (ear plugs, safety glasses, gloves, etc.).
- Utilize respiratory protection such as an N95 respirator in dusty environments.
- Utilize safe travel routes between fields, and take into account potential problems with automobile traffic and narrow roadways. Use escort vehicles when needed.