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Farm Safety – Doing What We Know

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
October 1, 2014         
Source:  Dan Martens, Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Farm Safety – Doing What We Know
By Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension

FOLEY, Minn. (09/26/2014) — Last week was National Farm Safety Week, September 21-27. That doesn’t mean we’re done thinking about farm safety for the fall harvest season. I hope it’s just the beginning of taking some time each day to consider the day’s activities with safety in mind. And I hope it’s more than just thinking.

I hope it means talking about safety with family and non-family members who work around the farm. This might be offering a reminder about a specific hazard related to the day’s work, such as, “We’re chopping on the back 40 today. Be extra careful when you make left hand turns into that field from the road to make sure no one’s trying to pass.” If you’re following farm equipment, consider the possibility of a left turn before trying to pass and make sure they know you are there.

Or, “Road edges might be kind of soft from the rain we’ve had, so be careful not to run too close to the edge with heavy loads.”

Or, “I picked up a couple of new dust masks when I was getting groceries yesterday, dear. So when you’re cleaning out the grain bin today, I’d sure appreciate it, if you would wear one.”

Making safety a priority every day also means looking for opportunities to actually DO something that makes the work safer.

Rather than just thinking about the low hanging branches that block a good view of the road coming out of the driveway, why not take a little time to do some pruning? That might be true with branches you have to duck while mowing the lawn or driving down a field road too. You might also consider whether you should talk with your spouse, or parents, or boss… before you start cutting up a tree or doing something else they might have a different view about.

It might mean checking or replacing the batteries in the magnet mounted flasher you use on the back of the silage wagon. That reminds me, my wife told me I have a burned out head light in the vehicle I usually drive.

It might mean replacing the clip that’s missing from the hitch pin.

It might mean adjusting the tie-rods or replacing bushings on the trailer that sways badly on the road.

I have five common thoughts about safety issues that get me into trouble; and I’ve got scars to prove most of them.

  1. I know I shouldn’t be doing this, but…. This comment often turns into: I knew I shouldn’t have been doing that.  The lesson here is to do what you know to do. 
  2. I don’t have time… this is often the “but” that makes the first one turn out poorly. I don’t have time to find the safety glasses. I don’t have time to fix it.  I don’t have time to slow down. I need to remember…I probably don’t have time to spend a half a day at the doctor’s office, or six weeks in a hospital either.
  3. It won’t happen to me. Not a good bet.
  4. I’ve done it a hundred times. How long can you beat the odds?   
  5. I’ll just take a quick swipe at it – similar to I’ll just jump out of the way.  There’s no such thing as a quick swipe near a roller, auger, chain, sprocket or belt that is turning faster than I can move - or with more power than I can stop without being hurt.

Let’s encourage each other and work together to have a safe harvest season… to do what we know. And let’s remember kindly those we have lost and those who have been hurt badly along the way. It really could be any of us.


Photo Credit: Catherine Dehdashti, University of Minnesota Extension


Daniel Martens
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 968-5077
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