Don’t leave safety behind during harvest

With the urgency and hurry of harvest season on the horizon, don’t forget to slow down for safety. Shorter days, unfamiliar equipment, variable weather, and grain storage dangers all raise

the stakes at harvest time.

Combines, grain carts, and tractor trailer trucks are not operated as often as tractors with implements, so be sure everyone in the operation knows what they are doing before jumping on equipment.

Keep your equipment in good condition and check to ensure all guards are attached and properly positioned. Check to make sure that you have the recommended lighting and reflective tape on tractors and equipment; especially when traveling in the early mornings or evenings. During the harvest time, it is very easy for farm family members to not get adequate rest, take breaks, and even eat meals. In order for you to remain alert during harvest, you cannot sacrifice rest and nutrition. When doing fieldwork, take short breaks throughout the day to get out of the tractor to stretch. Stay hydrated and pack nutritious snacks or meals so that you have enough energy to complete the day's work.

When it is crunch time during harvest, farmers may sometimes accept help from a neighbor, family member, or friend. It is vital to provide unfamiliar helpers with farm safety training related to the task that they will be helping with on the farm.

If you have youth (either your own, hired, or volunteers) working for you during the harvest season, evaluate the job they are doing to ensure they are not taking on more responsibility than they are mentally, cognitively, and physically able to accomplish. Always provide training for youth workers prior to doing any work and check in with them on regular intervals to check on their progress and safety.

Not all harvesting is done with tractors and combines. Some fall crops require hand harvesting and heavy lifting. Remember it is better to make multiple trips with lighter loads than to strain your body by lifting or carrying too much. When carrying an object, hold the object as close to your body as possible and lift with your knees rather than your back.

Do not ignore your health during the harvest season. As hard as it might be, try to get adequate sleep which will help you rejuvenate from a hard day and prepare you for the next busy day. During chopping, a person can get on and off the tractor numerous times to hitch and unhitch wagons. Consider using a hitching system to reduce the number of times you need to get on and off the tractor. If it is unavoidable, maintain 3 points of contact when getting on or off the tractor and avoid jumping off of the tractor or tractor steps to improve your safety and to protect your joints over time.

Harvest time is not the time to forget personal protective equipment. PPE such as ear plugs, gloves, and safety glasses should be used in appropriate situations, and masks should be worn around strangers.

Check to make sure that you have the recommended lighting on your tractor and implements, especially when traveling in the early mornings or evenings. When possible, avoid traveling on roadways during the busy morning and evening commute times. Use an escort vehicle when necessary.

Most of all, don’t let “hurry” cause you “worry” this harvest season.

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