Harvest season safety

WATCH YOURSELF CLOSER THAN YOUR CROPS

relatively speaking, it is quite easy for the modern farmer to weather the hardships Mother Nature drives their way. With improved seed and chemistries to prevent pests and disease, up-to-date drainage and irrigation systems, and multiple varieties of crop management techniques, one can ensure their crop has a fighting chance to live up to its fullest potential: healthy and profitable.

Ironically, it appears we often forget the same sort of immunities cannot always apply to ourselves. Medicine advances in leaps and bounds every fortnight, solving physical and mental conundrums that were considered far more perilous in years past, but its application is often a responsive action, not a preventative one like applying fungicide or entrenching a modern drainage system.

Whether a feeling of overconfidence or simply a lack of consideration for Murphy’s Law, it’s easy to overlook the potential dangers associated with the farm, particularly around harvest. Indeed, the statistics speak for themselves. Between the years of 1990 and 1995 alone, there were 152 fatal farm-related accidents in Ontario, a number that should be unacceptable.

Use the following tips to stay safe this harvest season

Mechanical Readiness
Ensure all machinery has been properly prepared and overlooked in an efficient and effective manner before harvest time arrives. That means making things safe for the operator, and preventing costly repairs. Grease the PTO, check for frayed cables, watch for old and splitting tires, hydraulic lines and machine belts.

Visibility
Whether moving in the field, driving to the elevator, or just taking the old Massy Ferguson out for a Sunday drive, make sure all equipment is adorned with a slow-moving-vehicle sign, working lights and mirrors where necessary. Being able to see and be seen is an extremely simple and effective method to prevent tragedy both in and outside the field.

Patience
Do not rush your work. As teachers tried to drill this basic concept into our heads as children, we must drill it into our own minds now. We were taught that rushing work led to needless mistakes, and during harvest, these mistakes translate to physical mishaps with potentially devastating effects. That means watching your speed while working with machinery, shutting things off before performing maintenance and working with an alert and sober mind.

Combine Awareness
It’s a big machine with big consequences, so make sure you are utilizing it in an appropriate manner. Don’t rely on hydraulics alone when working below the head — secure it with blocks or a manual lock. Shut the machine off before removing blockages, remove the head (when possible) before transport and always be aware of your surroundings.

Flowing Grain
Flowing grain is exceptionally precarious, and one should never enter a wagon or bin where grain is being transferred as the flow rate is exceptionally powerful. Doing so could easily cause the individual to become submerged and trapped, possibly leading to suffocation or further injury should a running auger be present at the bottom of the wagon or bin. Keep in mind flowing grain acts as a liquid rather than a solid and can be very dangerous.

We would all like to think we have this safety thing down pat, but as many Canadians have discovered, even the smallest of possibilities can turn into the most devastating of truths. That said, even taking every possible precaution is no guarantee of immunity. Indeed, nature has a great deal of unpredictability in its workings. But, like a bit of extra fertilizer for your germinating seeds, being a little extra careful never hurts. Stay safe this harvest season. •