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Eight Steps to be a Safe Machinery Operator

Source:  Nathan Winter, McLeod and Meeker County Extension Educator
Spring is a reminder of a new start and for me farm safety. Farm safety is so important to those working in agriculture, 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.  There were 374 farmers and farmworkers that died from work-related injuries in 2012. The leading cause of death for farmers and farmworkers was tractor overturns.

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. The simple tips and precautions in this publication are no substitute for the operator’s manual for each piece of machinery. 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.

Often youth are utilized to help out with the farm work.  Be sure to look out for their interests by keeping them safe. In 2012, an estimated 14,000 youth were injured on farms, 2,700 of these injuries were due to farm work. On average, there are 113 youth less than 20 years of age that dies annually from farm-related injuries, with the most prevalent age group being those from 16 – 19 years of age.  Of the leading sources of fatal injuries to youth, 23% involved machinery (including tractors), 19% involved motor vehicles (including ATVs), and 16% were due to drowning. Be safe in your work and look out for the safety of others as well.

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  

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

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