Whether you’re an expert in farm equipment or not, before you splurge on a new planter or tractor, we’re here to remind you of the safety precautions to take while operating farm equipment. Machinery is one of the top causes of fatal ag injuries.
Every time you’re out on the farm, remember this simple formula:
Safety = Good Working Equipment + Capable And Attentive Operators
While functional equipment is an important part of farm safety, most accidents actually occur due to distracted, overtired, or unprepared operators.
10 Farm Equipment Safety Tips
Keep these tips in mind to avoid accidents when operating equipment and machinery on your farm.
- Read and comply with the manual. Always thoroughly read the manual for each piece of equipment. Your new tractor may function differently than your old one, for example. Then, comply with the instructions and rules
- Follow and keep up with federal and state laws. These laws are in place to protect both you and the citizens around you, and it’s best to make sure you’re keeping up with changes to avoid fines. For instance, Wisconsin recently changed its lighting and marking requirements for all Implements of Husbandry (IoH) to further protect both operators and drivers on public roads.
- Always keep your slow-moving-emblem (SMV) clean, visible and properly mounted. This is an important law. Following it can prevent rear-end collisions while transporting and potentially save a life. Road safety is so important.
- Dress appropriately. An untied shoelace, flowing long hair and stray threads from an old shirt have, in the past, led to horrendous injuries when operating farm equipment. Dressing appropriately can mean reducing risk of such injuries.
- Ensure you’re well rested. Feeling fatigued when operating machinery can be dangerous. Make sure you’re taking breaks from work when you need rest.
- Avoid alcohol. Even one drink can affect your ability to operate machinery. Keep alcohol out of the picture until you’re done for the day.
- Maintain awareness. Stay focused. Be aware of what you are doing and where you are going.
- Adjust equipment accordingly. This means keeping all guards, shields and access doors in place when operating equipment, and making necessary alterations to equipment to fit operational conditions. Make sure whoever is using the equipment is properly trained to know basic procedures and safety precautions.
- Keep children and animals away from working areas. Farms offer a world of adventure for curious kids. To avoid any disastrous accidents, keep your child’s play area separate from your work area. Know where your children are even when you are mowing the lawn. Don’t let a split-second accident impact your child forever.
- Read up about planter equipment safety. Although operators should bear in mind similar safety precautions when using planter equipment, it’s good to read up about the specifics.
Remember: farm equipment safety starts with you! Know how to properly use your equipment and keep your farm buildings safe.
Farm Safety Story: Learning from an accident
Unfortunately, accidents do happen. We spoke with Gary Lechleitner, who was kind enough to share his farm accident story with us. As owner and operator of a farm located in the town of Rietbrock in Marathon County, he tells us how he overcame his accident and proves that farm life can continue after hardship.
Gary grew up farming. He loved his farm and worked hard every day. But in 2003, an unfortunate accident forced Gary to take a new approach to working on the farm.