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Harvest safety - 4 tips for a successful and accident-free season

By: JP McDonald 

The harvest season is upon us, bringing both excitement and potential hazards to farming. Discover four indispensable tips to safeguard your well-being, your family, your employees, and your community during this critical time. 

No. 1: Comprehensive Equipment Inspection 

Prior to launching your harvest, conduct a meticulous examination of all farm equipment to confirm its top-notch condition. Verify that emergency stops, safety shields, and lights are fully operational. Ensure that slow-moving vehicle signs and warning decals are prominently visible and correctly positioned. Don't overlook preventive maintenance inspections offered by equipment dealerships, which can prevent costly breakdowns during harvest. 

Throughout the harvest period, maintain a routine equipment inspection schedule. This not only helps identify safety concerns but also mitigates the risk of catastrophic equipment failures. 

No. 2: Revisit Safe Operating Procedures 

No matter your level of experience, it's always beneficial to revisit equipment manuals and review safe operating procedures. Familiarize yourself with any recent updates or modifications. For those acquiring new equipment, collaborate with the dealership to arrange one-on-one training sessions and consider attending equipment customer clinics for valuable maintenance and safety insights. 

No. 3: Field Safety Awareness 

Stay vigilant while working in the field to reduce accidents and equipment damage: 

  • Keep an eye out for potential debris that could harm your equipment. 

  • Prevent overloading of grain carts and other hauling machinery to maintain safe operating conditions. 

  • When near moving components like PTOs, belts, and augers, avoid loose clothing or jewelry. 

  • Maintain awareness of your team members' locations and provide sufficient warnings when starting equipment. 

  • Avoid leaving equipment unattended; follow proper shutdown procedures. 

  • When working solo, inform someone of your whereabouts and expected return time. 

  • Ensure children and animals are far from active machinery. 

  • Trust your instincts; if something seems amiss with your equipment, have it inspected before resuming work. 

No. 4: Prioritize Personal Well-Being 

Remember, your health is paramount. During the demanding harvest season, prioritize physical and mental well-being. Avoid pushing through exhaustion, illness, or injuries, as this can lead to accidents. Take breaks and get adequate rest, enabling you to make sounder decisions and enjoy your favorite activities. 

While accidents can still occur despite taking precautions, having a well-equipped first-aid kit and an emergency response plan in place ensures that everyone returns home safely at the end of each harvest day. 

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