​​Top Tips for safely operating farm machinery:

  • Provide Staff Training
  • Safeguard your machines
  • Regularly inspect and maintain machines
  • Dress Appropriately when operating
  • Stay vigilant and focused
  • Ensure machines are properly shut down, isolated and locked down when finished

National Farm Safety & Health Week

September 17 – 23, 2017

Each year since 1944, the third week of September has been recognized as National Farm Safety & Health Week. This recognition has been an annual promotion initiated by the National Safety Council and over the years, the development and dissemination of National Farm Safety & Health Week materials has shifted to the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety. NECAS is the agricultural partner for NSC and has been serving the agricultural family and business community since 1997. 

The 2017 theme for National Farm Safety & Health Week is “Putting Farm Safety into Practice” This year’s theme is one that hits home and reminds us that it is everyone’s responsibility for safety both on the farm and the rural roadways of America. The new data for the Department of Labor shows the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 570 fatalities, which equals 22.8 deaths per 100,000 workers. When combining all labor sectors the death rate was 3.4%

As we recognize National Farm Safety & Health Week this September, please join us in promoting safe and healthy practices on our farms and ranches across the U.S. and in our neighboring countries as producers enter the harvest season. 

Drivers should pay special attention as they travel rural roads and highways during planting time.  It’s the time of the year when the rural roads are filled with tractors pulling farm equipment. Slow-moving farm equipment presents special dangers for motorists, Funkenbusch says.

The most common accident occurs when a slow-moving farm vehicle turns left. Large farm equipment needs to make wide turns to line up with a gate or driveway.

Slow down on rural roads, she says. A car traveling 55 mph requires 224 feet to stop on dry payment, assuming average reaction time for braking. At 55 mph, it takes a car just five seconds to close the length of a football field and overtake a tractor moving 15 mph.

Stay back from farm equipment. Use caution and patience. Noise from the equipment’s motor and tires may make it difficult for the driver to hear approaching vehicles.

Dusk, sunrise and blinding sunlight compromise the driver’s vision. Keep an eye on traffic behind you that may also attempt to pass. Pass only when the road is clear and vision is unobstructed.

Most farmers make every effort to be courteous and safe, she says. Many will pull equipment off the roadway when road shoulders permit to let motorists pass safely. Watch for hand signals from the farmer.

Farmers may rush as they face weather-related deadlines. They want to get into the fields to till and plant. Practice patience during the small and temporary inconvenience of your food being produced.

Parents should talk to teen drivers in their household about additional dangers presented during farming season. Hired farmhands also should review safe practices.

Other additional recommendations for farmers:

• When driving farm machinery on a road or highway, display a red flag measuring 12-14 feet high atop a pole so that the machine can be seen even when hidden by a rise or curve in the roadway.

• When rounding a curve, stay to the right-hand side of the road as much as possible. Avoid soft or steep road shoulders, which may cause the tractor to tip.

• Take extra precautions when driving in the early morning or early evening hours, when visibility is often impaired by sun.

• If traffic lines up behind you, pull off or let traffic pass when it is safe to do so.

• Railroad crossings, especially those without gates, present a special hazard. Never take a safe crossing for granted.

• Use hand signals, electronic signals or both to indicate intentions to turn. Avoid wide turns.

• Turn your headlights on, but turn off rear spotlights, which can be mistaken for headlights.

• Avoid the roads during rush hour, in bad weather and at night.

• Use pilot cars if going a considerable distance, and hang a flag out the window of these vehicles or use a slow-moving vehicle emblem.

Our Farm Safety Coverage this week is brought to you by the fine folks at Kings River Realty, Williams Tractor and Hanby Lumber.

National Farm Safety & Health Week - Part 2 - Farmer Health

All medicine has side effects.

Even minor side effects can be deadly for farmers, says Kelly Cochran of the Missouri AgrAbility Project’s Pharm to Farm program.

The statewide outreach program helps farmers identify medical risks through their local pharmacist. In many rural Missouri areas, pharmacists fill health care gaps. They are the first line of defense in farm health and safety.

Medicines’ side effects put farmers working with equipment and livestock at risk. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Safety Council list farming as one of the riskiest occupations for injury and death.

“Taking medicine increases risk of injury by two- to fourfold,” Cochran says.

That risk goes up as farms get larger and the average age of farmers nears 60.

Ninety-eight of Missouri’s 101 rural counties are considered primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes are more prevalent in rural communities. Chronic conditions such as incontinence, sleep deprivation, bowel problems, pain and heart disease increase the rate of farm accidents.

Medicines often cause dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, blurred vision, lightheadedness and gait problems. Many farmers, because of their stoic nature, do not share concerns with family members and friends.  Rural people often rely on their local pharmacist for trusted advice.

Pharm to Farm students help pharmacists, often raised and educated in non-rural areas, learn about farm life and farm values—independence, pride, thrift, skepticism and strong work ethic. They also talk about safety barriers in rural settings such as long work hours and seasonal deadlines.

Other barriers for farmers and ranchers include limited access to health care, resources and health insurance. Pharm to Farm students encourage pharmacists to use less medical jargon when talking to rural clients.

Pharm to Farm provides on-site farmstead assessments to find and lower risks. During on-site visits, they check medicines and talk about their risks.

Our Farm Safety Coverage this week is brought to you by the fine folks at Kings River Realty, Williams Tractor and Hanby Lumber.

National Farm Safety and Health Week - Part 3 -Child/Youth Health and Safety

Harvest season is peak time for accidents involving farm children.

“As part of a farm family, they like to be part of the harvest,” says Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri Extension state health and safety specialist. “Harvest time is likely when children will be extra riders on the tractors, combines or in grain trucks.” They also may ride all-terrain vehicles to take water and food to farmworkers.

Accidents related to riding on or driving tractors and ATVs are the two most common types of farm accidents involving children or young people, she said.

“Never allow children to ride as extra passengers on tractors, lawn mowers or other farm equipment,” Funkenbusch said. “Also, do not let a young person operate a tractor unless they are mature enough, have the physical capability and are versed in operational safety.”

All tractors should be fitted with a rollover protection structure (ROPS). Operators of tractors with ROPS should wear seat belts so that they will stay in place in case of a rollover.

“Never use a seat belt on a tractor not fitted with ROPS,” she said.

Risk-taking is common among youth, Funkenbusch said. Youngsters often ride without protective gear and with more than one person on the machine. They also may be too small for the ATV.

Funkenbusch recommends these rules for youth riding ATVs:

• Wear helmets.

• Wear eye protection.

• Wear nonskid, closed-toe shoes, long pants and long-sleeved shirts.

• Never ride on public roads at night; never ride on paved roads.

• Before buying a used ATV, check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall list.

• Take a safety course on how to ride an ATV.

Our Farm Safety Coverage this week is brought to you by the fine folks at Kings River Realty, Williams Tractor and Hanby Lumber.

Daily Topics for 2017

Monday - Tractor Safety
Tuesday - Farmer Health
Wednesday - Child/Youth Health and Safety
Thursday - Confined Spaces in Agriculture
Friday - Rural Roadway Safety