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8 steps to ensure a safe harvest

A sprayer and a car pass each other on a two-lane road
ROAD SAFETY: Penn State farm safety professor Dennis Murphy advises farmers to avoid driving equipment on roads during morning and afternoon rush hours, and to use an escort vehicle.
Farm safety tips from Penn State Cooperative Extension.

As fall harvest goes into full swing, farmers need to remember to be safe out in the fields and on the roadways.

Penn State Cooperative Extension has created a list of eight things farmers should remember when going out into their fields:

1. Use a rollover protection structure
Many farmers use older equipment not equipped with a rollover protection structure (ROPS). Dennis Murphy, Penn State professor of agricultural safety and health, says farmers should always use a tractor equipped with an ROPS when possible. He says to make sure all guards are properly positioned in order to keep equipment in good condition.

2. Turn off the machine
Clogs can happen in the corn harvester. But if you don’t turn off the machine before taking care of the problem, you could be putting yourself in danger. Turn off the machine if you need to fix a clog.

3. Take breaks and get enough sleep
Farmers will be spending lots of time in the fields these next couple of weeks. Don’t forget about taking a needed break.

Murphy says farmers should take short breaks throughout the day to get out of the cab and stretch. He says it is important to stay hydrated and eat good snacks and meals throughout the day.

Also, get a good night’s rest.

4. Properly train workers
Not everyone is accustomed to working with a combine or other harvesting equipment. And it’s always a good idea to reteach proper safety procedures to prevent accidents and injuries.

5. Be careful with young workers
Family members are crucial to getting work done on the farm, and on some farms those family members can be young. Murphy says farmers should make sure their young workers are mentally and physically able to do the work. He says farmers should provide additional training for young workers and check in often to see how they are doing.

6. Practice proper lifting
Some crops require workers to go out and harvest by hand. Murphy says workers should multiple trips with lighter loads as this will put less stress on the body. He says that, when carrying an object, to always hold it as close to your body as possible and lift with your knees rather than your back.

7. Consider using a hitching system
During chopping, it is not uncommon to get on and off the tractor to hitch and unhitch wagons. Murphy says to consider using a hitching system to reduce the number of times you have to get out of the cab.

He says to maintain three points of contact when getting out of the cab and to avoid jumping off the tractor or the steps to protect your joints.

8. Be safe on the roads
Many farmers harvest fields in heavily populated areas. Be careful on the roads.

Murphy says farmers should avoid driving combines, tractors or other pieces of equipment on roads during the busy morning and afternoon rush hours. He also says to use an escort vehicle, if possible.

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