Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. About three-quarters of agricultural deaths reported annually in Canada are equipment-related, with the top three most common sources of injury being rollovers, run-overs and entanglements.
During harvest, countless hours will be spent in combines, tractors, trucks, mowers and other equipment by farmers and workers who will be using heavy machinery on our roads to transport produce from farm fields to various other locations.
Farmers are at very high risk for fatal and non-fatal injuries, and because farming is one of the few industries in which family members often share the work and live on the premises, it is even more important to ensure safety is foremost on everyone’s mind.
The safety measures below, courtesy of the Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (www.wsps.ca) and the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (www.casa-acsa.ca), are important reminders to help you prepare for an injury-free harvest.
Know your machinery—
- Learn the safe speed, slope capabilities, braking and steering characteristics, turning radius, and operating clearances.
- Look for any condition that might be hazardous like ditches, potholes, drop-offs, steep slopes, stumps, etc.
- Remove any objects that could be thrown by a cutter or mower. Remember that obstacles are harder to see in tall grass, weeds, or brush.
- Check for overhead clearance when operating boom or wing-type equipment.
- Put equipment in neutral or park, engage parking brake, and turn off engine before dismounting.
- Wait until all mechanisms have stopped moving before attempting to service or unclog a machine.
Recognize the hazard—
- Confirm that all guards, shields, and safety signs recommended by the manufacturer are installed. Study the danger, warning, and caution decals affixed to the machine.
- Never, ever operate a tractor with a missing or damaged master shield.
- Always disengage the PTO, shut off the tractor engine, and remove the keys before leaving the tractor seat.
- Never step across a rotating PTO shaft!
- Dress for safety. Wear close-fitting clothes and keep long hair covered.
Check everything before heading out—
- Perform operational checks on fans, augers, conveyors and other mechanical equipment.
- Find and organize parts, tools and equipment needed to facilitate immediate servicing, maintenance or repairs to all harvesting or handling equipment.
- Keep all guards in place.
Know the dangers of highway travel—
- A major reason for farm machinery accidents on public roads is the difference in speed between cars and tractors. Moving farm equipment on public roads can be a dangerous business. Operators need to drive defensively and remain alert every second they are on the road.
- Install slow-moving vehicle (SMV) signs if your farm vehicle can only travel at speeds up to 40kph.
- Tractors must be equipped with lights if operated on public roads at night, or under conditions of reduced visibility.
Eyes are irreplaceable—
- Plastic goggles protect the eyes against front and side impact. Unvented or chemical splash goggles also offer protection against chemical vapours and liquids.
- Always wear goggles when striking hardened metal tools and hardened metal surfaces to protect eyes against flying metal chips.
Get enough sleep—
- Human error is the number one cause of most fatal farm accidents. Don’t let your life fall prey to fatigue. Stop and get rest.
Take the right steps to prevent an accident. If you’re not sure if you and your equipment are fully protected from a farm accident, talk to one of our trusted Brokers.