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Take charge of farming safety

By Tim Prather, University of Tennessee Extension Specialist 8/29/2018


Tim Prather, University of Tennessee Extension Specialist
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Growing up on a farm is a unique, educational experience, but it comes with a greater risk of accident. While there has been a decrease in farm-related fatalities and injuries in the last 30 years, accidents can still happen.

In my role as a University of Tennessee Extension Specialist, I focus on farm safety, agrability, and precision agriculture. The following paragraphs give some insight on ways to reduce farm fatalities and injuries.

Farming operations require the use of large machinery such as tractors, combines, hay balers, and so on. When using machinery like this, be sure to read and fully understand the operator’s manual. Make sure to pay close attention to any safety messages or instructions for operation and maintenance. It’s also important to make sure that any equipment you use is properly maintained.

Another thing to keep in mind when running heavy equipment is its location in proximity to where children are playing. Many people cling to a theory of, “I played around machinery and grew up unscathed.” This is a risky perspective that doesn’t always hold true.

Children should not be around large animals, machinery, grain trucks and bins, hay storages, silos, and manure lagoons. It looks fun, and we all probably played and worked in those places when we were kids. But it wasn’t safe then, and it isn’t safe now. I also suggest making sure children are nowhere near heavy machinery that is in use, especially since youngsters are easily lost in the operator’s blind spots.

Speaking of blind spots, moving farm equipment on a highway can potentially pose the risk of accidents. With harvest season fast approaching, it’s important to take precautions when moving equipment.

While farmers have the legal right to operate machinery temporarily on public roadways, there are some things to consider. Always wear a seat belt on machines that have a Roll Over Protective Structure (ROPS). This helps to increase the chances of surviving a roll-over crash involving another vehicle.

Make sure to have escort vehicles when moving large equipment on narrow roads to warn drivers of large equipment. Also, double check your insurance policies to make sure you have sufficient liability coverage for operating your machinery on the road.

During harvest season prep, take the time to go over all equipment that will be used during the harvest. Use a rainy day to complete needed maintenance, not only on regularly-used equipment but also on backup machinery.

Farm life includes many factors that cannot be controlled, like the economy and the weather. But farmers are in charge of the safety of their farms. A much safer farm is just a little time and a few changes away.

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