By Karen Johnson, University of Minnesota Extension Educator
Mother Nature has been teasing us with what seems to be spring-like weather. Although we are not quite ready to hit the fields full force, now is an excellent time to think about what you can do to prepare for a safe planting season. Remember, safety on the farm needs to be practiced every day no matter the task you, your family or your farm employees are doing.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), agriculture continues to rank amongst the most hazardous industries. Approximately, 416 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury in 2017, resulting in a fatality rate of 20.4 deaths per 100,000 workers.
Transportation incidents, including tractor overturns, were the leading cause of death for farmers and farm workers. Approximately 100 agricultural workers suffer lost work-time injuries every day. Just another reason why farm safety needs to be practiced every day to prevent serious or fatal injuries on our farms.
These numbers are far too high. Because of this, the University of Minnesota Extension, in partnership with American Family Insurance has launched a new series of farm safety videos. The purpose of this project is to share crucial farm safety messages and reminders with the agricultural community. The videos are all shorter than five minutes, making them a great tool for farms. They provide a mix of information, demonstration, and discussion. The first video in the series covers roadway safety and includes information about pre-trip inspections, equipment for roadway safety, and safe driving habits. The video can be found at https://z.umn.edu/AgRoadwaySafetyVideo.
As you are preparing for planting season, here are several suggestions to keep in mind:
- Before operating, fully understand the equipment’s capabilities and hazard potential. Don’t use equipment for tasks that it was not designed for.
- Use all modern safety features – such as Roll Over Protection Structures (ROPS), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and seat belts.
- One Seat = One Person – Not only do extra riders distract the operator, but there is also no safe place in the majority of farm equipment for an additional person.
- Understand all laws of the center of gravity and centrifugal force to prevent rollovers.
- Follow all manufacturer’s recommendations for pulling equipment with the hitch and/or using the hydraulic lifts on the equipment – including proper bucket position and hitch points.
- Use handholds and care when getting on and off equipment to avoid slips and falls.
- Ensure the equipment is properly maintained and cared for.
In conclusion, by utilizing these suggestions on an everyday basis, you can provide a safe and healthy workplace for yourself and your workers. We all need to keep farm safety in mind to ensure that a severe or fatal injury never occurs on our farms.
For more news from U of M Extension, visit www.extension.umn.edu/news or contact Extension Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.