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Mechanics Corner: Are you practicing farm machinery safety?

Tracey Renelt Published on 31 December 2012

One of the areas we tend to have good intentions about practicing is farm safety, but sometimes our good intentions get set aside.

I realize this is not intentional, but we must make an extra effort to not only think about it, but also practice it.

How many people do you know that are missing a limb or an appendage, such as a finger, or have had some sort of farm accident? Or even worse yet, have suffered the loss of a loved one?

Oftentimes in a rural community such as ours, we can name several people. We do not plan for accidents – we should plan to avoid accidents.

Many accidents that occur on farms can be prevented if people take the time to protect themselves from the unexpected twists we know our environment (including other people) can throw at us.

Though today’s farm equipment is the safest ever from an engineering standpoint, we still need to follow some basic guidelines when operating this equipment.

Below is a list of some of the basic farm equipment safety guidelines that should be practiced in regards to farm machinery.

  • Follow operating, maintenance and safety instructions in your operator manual; review them periodically.

  • Be personally fit and ready for a safe day at the wheel. Take occasional breaks to reduce fatigue.

  • Dress appropriately for weather and working conditions, including needed personal protective equipment such as a bump cap, safety shoes, earplugs, respirators and safety glasses. Loose clothing should not be worn around equipment.

  • Make sure all equipment operators are well trained and competent. Take the time to train them if they are not competent.

  • Do not allow extra riders on equipment, unless the equipment is specifically designed for an extra rider.

  • Keep all shielding in place. If possible, install a roll-over protection structure (ROPS) if the tractor is not already equipped with a ROPS.

  • Make certain hydraulic lines are properly connected, in good condition and leak-free.

  • Use extreme caution when working around power take-offs (PTOs) and never step over a rotating PTO shaft. Also, ensure all PTOs are properly shielded.

  • Stop the power and remove the keys before unclogging or fixing a power-driven machine.

  • Match ground speed to operating conditions. Watch where you are going. Avoid obstacles, ditches and steep slopes.

  • Watch for overhead power lines.

  • When on the road, use your flashing lights. Make sure the slow-moving emblem is clean and visible. Obey all traffic rules.

  • Turn off the engine before refueling. Do not smoke around hazardous chemicals.

  • When parking, set brakes, shift into “park” or “neutral” and take the key with you. Also, lower all hydraulic attachments to the ground.

  • Make sure there is a working fire extinguisher and first aid kit on your operating equipment.

  • When operating equipment, always assume that bystanders cannot see you. Also, watch out for children on the farm yard.

Make sure they understand not to play around equipment. In addition, we should also make an extra effort to know where they are on the farm at all times.

I realize there are many more safety tips we could have gone over. However, these tips can be applied to a large portion of the farm equipment used today and hopefully they will remind you to think “safety” on your operation.  PD

—Excerpts from SDSU Extension’s iGrow website.

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Tracey Renelt
Dairy Field Specialist
South Dakota State University Extension

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