Top 10 Hazards Found on a Farm

Did you know that 40% of small businesses permanently close after a significant loss occurs? 25% of those that reopen will fail within one year, and 90% of those that reopen will fail within 2 years according to the Small Business Administration.  As an insurance company, we can help provide some financial guarantees to protect you from loss, but there are a host of factors that feed into these sobering statistics.

It’s important to understand that generally no single factor causes a loss. In nearly all post-incident root causes analysis, a list of contributing and causal factors combined to result in the loss. Some of these hazards may seem less impactful than others. When combined with the other factors that routinely are identified in a loss, correcting that one “minor” hazard may break the chain of factors and events that will lead to a significant loss.

To help keep your family, your farm, and your business safe we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most encountered hazards on a farm identified by our agents and loss control experts. Use this as a self-inspection checklist to look around your property.

Review these hazards commonly found on farms.

Can you answer “Yes” to these questions?

  1.  Are portable fire extinguishers provided in adequate number and type, mounted (42-48” above floor as measured to top of handle) in readily accessible locations, and inspected annually with the inspection date noted on the inspection tag? [OSHA 29 CFR 1910.157(e)(3)]
  2.  Are diesel and gasoline fueling tanks over 110 gallon capacity located at least 40’ from the nearest building? (unless a containment system is provided, consult with Loss Control for assistance with containment systems) [WI Administrative Code SPS 310.630(2)(a)], and protected from vehicle impact? Suitable barriers would be 4” diameter steel pipe filled with concrete, set 3’ deep in concrete footing with a footing not less than 15” diameter, spaced 4’ apart, and 5’ from the protected object. [NFPA 30:] Rocks, concrete blocks/barriers, or other barrier devices capable of preventing vehicle contact with the tank are also acceptable. [Rural Mutual Requirement]
  3.  Are eye wash or shower stations provided for the quick-drenching or flushing of the eyes and body within 10 seconds unimpeded travel distance of where corrosive liquids or other injurious chemicals are handled? Testing of these facilities must be conducted and documented weekly. [OSHA 29 CFR 1910.151(c), ANSI/ISEA Z358.1 incorporated by reference]
  4.  Are machine guards in place on equipment to protect employees from point of operation, nip points, and rotating part hazards? [OSHA 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(1), OSHA 29 CFR 1928.57 for farming operations]
  5.  Are all electrical outlets, junctions, raceways, panels, etc.; covered, have knock-out plugs (or blanks) in-place, and free of any exposed wiring? [OSHA 29 CFR 1910.303(b)(7)(i)]
  6.  Are compressed flammable gas cylinders stored in a well-protected, well-ventilated, dry location, at least 20 (6.1 m) feet from combustible materials? Assigned storage area must provide a method (rope or non-sparking chain) to secure cylinders from accidently being knocked over. Cylinders shall not be kept in unventilated enclosures such as lockers and cupboards. [OSHA 29 CFR 1910.253(b)(2)(ii)]
  7.  Are all manure pits and lagoons fenced to prevent unauthorized access? If fencing is not feasible, appropriate warning signs should be placed around the perimeter of the manure pit. If warning signs only are installed, they must be maintained in a visible and legible condition. Any issues of feasibility are subject to Underwriter/Loss Control approval. [NRCS Code 382, Item 12] Signs can be obtained through Grainger using your Farm Bureau membership discount.
  8.  Are all electrical panels provided with at least 36” of clearance and materials not stored in this clear area? It can be helpful to mark this area with yellow lines. Access path to the panels can be no less than 30” wide. [OSHA 29 CFR 1910.303(g)(1)(i)(B)]
  9. Is the property free of any extension cords used for permanent applications? Extension cords should not be used in place of permanent wiring and should not be run through walls, across aisle ways, or attached to the building structure. [OSHA 29 CFR 1910.305(g)(1)(ii)]
  10.  Are all containers (i.e, cans, pails, tanks) labeled with the chemical name and hazard information (i.e., flammable, irritant, carcinogen, etc)? [OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1200(f)(6)]

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, take the time to properly make the changes necessary to improve safety on your farm for your family, your staff and yourself. 

Safety is our business. Talk to your local Rural Mutual Insurance agent for more farm safety tips and resources.