By Emily Wilmes, U of M Extension
Tractors and large field equipment are the most common causes of farm accidents, injuries, and deaths. They are a necessary part of farm work, but exercising caution when using them is crucial in preventing accidents. I am passionate about all areas of farm safety, but especially equipment safety. It’s very personal for me, as my dad lost his leg in a farming accident involving equipment when he was only 18. I don’t want any farmer to go through what my dad went through, so pay attention to safety.
First and foremost, read the safety manual. Also, pay attention to any safety or warning decals on the equipment. Before operation, be sure to inspect the equipment for any safety hazards. During inspection, also identify all safety hazards including: moving parts, pinch points, crush points, pull-in areas, and free-wheeling areas. Be sure that anyone who is going to be using the equipment is aware of these areas as well.
While using the equipment, keep bystanders – especially -children – away from the equipment operation area. Before approaching equipment for an inspection or repair, shut it down, turn off the engine, remove the key, and wait for all moving parts to stop. This is the only time you should be removing any safety devices such as shields from the equipment. When any work you were doing is completed, safety devices should be put back on.
In addition, be mindful when using public roadways. Use lights and flashers to ensure that you are easy for drivers to see and have a slow-moving emblem on your tractor and equipment. It is Minnesota law for all vehicles traveling under 30 miles per hour on public roadways. You may also consider using a follow vehicle when moving large pieces of equipment, especially at night. Proper safety precautions on the roads keep not only you but the other people using the road, safe. We cannot control how other drivers may react to farm equipment being on the road, but it is vital that farmers are doing whatever they can to keep everyone safe.
Farm equipment is a dangerous part of farming, but following safety guidelines, keeping others away from the operation area, and using public roads in a safe manner will keep us all out of harm’s way.