When listing “the most dangerous jobs,” most don’t consider a job in the agriculture industry. However, farming is considered the sixth most dangerous job in the world, and, in 2018, at least 17,390 nonfatal injuries were reported when either in the transportation of processing equipment or in contact with objects and equipment. Farmers and agricultural workers must take extra care, especially when working with grain equipment such as combines.
1. Road safety is extremely important.
It is important to make sure that your equipment complies with the rules of the road while you are either driving on local highways or transporting heavy equipment via a truck and trailer. Each state has varying rules about lighting, decals (some states require a “slow moving equipment” decal on farming equipment), reflective tape, and the like.
It is important to know the roads you’re traveling and to take into account the size of your machine while on the highway. Prepare for wide turns, and, unfortunately, you’ll also have to prepare for careless motorists too. Try to avoid traveling at dusk and daylight when your equipment is less visible.
2. Avoid working solo if possible.
Although time is of the essence when harvesting, it is vitally important that you don’t work alone. Let’s say your machine breaks down. If you happen to try to work on your combine or other equipment alone and get a piece of clothing or, worse, your hand caught in a piece of equipment, you could face serious injury or death.
Augers are also another piece of equipment that requires your utmost attention. Never remove the equipment guards or shields that are meant to prevent injuries when this equipment is running. Yes, these guards and shields can make repairs difficult at times, but this is a leading cause of injuries to farmers.
If the PTO on the grain auger is in need of a repair, then make sure it has the proper guards on at all times. It’s a good idea to only repair the PTO when the auger is not in use, and always use the buddy system when working on repairs. Older augers might not have an intake shield in place, so take care when working on an older piece of equipment. Another area you’ll want to watch out for concerning grain augers is the “pinch point.” Many farmers and agricultural workers become injured when a finger or a piece of clothing gets caught in these areas.
3. Wear appropriate clothing.
Certainly, during the heat of the summer (and sometimes during harvest time) you’re going to wish for lightweight, loose clothing. However, it is best to wear clothes that are somewhat fitted when working around farm equipment. Even something as innocuous as a shoelace that isn’t tied can get caught in a piece of moving equipment and quickly cause injury. Be sure to put up any long, loose hair into a ponytail. Farmers relate that loose clothing or hair getting caught in a piece of moving machinery is almost a guaranteed injury.