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Eight Steps to be a Safe Machinery Operator

Source: Karen Johnson, University of Minnesota Extension
Spring is a reminder of a new start and for me - farm safety. Farm safety is essential to those working in agriculture, to their families, and those using rural roadways. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website has numerous resources related to workplace safety and health topics. Every day, there are 167 agricultural workers that suffer a lost-work-time-injury. Five percent of these injuries result in permanent impairment.

Although agriculture is safer than it once was, it still ranks among the most dangerous industries. Those working on farms risk fatal and nonfatal injuries, work-related lung diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases, and certain cancers from prolonged sun and chemical use. Many of the mechanical, chemical, and environmental hazards increase the risk of accidents. 

Unfortunately, we continue seeing injuries and fatalities in the agricultural industry and often they can be prevented. Most everyone working in the agricultural area knows of someone that has been injured or has died as a direct result of a farming accident. Farm equipment is safer than it used to be, but there are still injuries and fatalities that can occur.

Kansas State University Research and Extension highlight eight simple steps to be a safe machinery operator in their publication called “Machinery Safety on the Farm”.

  1. Be aware. Recognize where and what the hazards are.
  2. Be prepared. Replace worn parts promptly and do daily pre-operational checks. Include preseason checks. Take advantage of the off-season to do additional maintenance work. This gives you time to order any shields and other parts you may need. Anticipate problems.
  3. Read the operator’s manual for more details on maintenance needs and safety precautions. If the manual is missing, contact your dealer or check online to get another one.
  4. Shield all moving parts. Make the machine as safe as possible.
  5. Respect PTO and hydraulics. Remember that any machine that is powered by a power takeoff driveline (PTO) or has hydraulic systems is inherently dangerous.
  6. Shut it off. Before servicing any machine, disengage the PTO, turn off the engine, remove the key, and wait for all parts to stop moving.
  7. Watch yourself. Try to avoid particularly hazardous jobs if you’re physically ill or mentally distracted. Fatigue and stress cause many accidents.
  8. Use a machine only for its intended purpose.

Farming is a dangerous occupation. However, we can effectively take the steps to ensure safety on our farms.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Agricultural Safety”,

Kansas State University Research and Extension “Machinery Safety on the Farm”,


Karen Johnson
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems
(320) 484-4303
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