National Farm Safety Week is September 15-21

Chad Smith

National Farm Safety Week is September 15-21. Since 1944, the third week in September has been set aside as National Farm Safety Week, and farmers across the country are reminded of the need for safety in what is recognized as one of the most dangerous professions in America.

The theme for this year’s National Farm Safety Week is “Shift Farm Safety Into High Gear.” That theme is designed to remind rural residents that it’s everyone’s responsibility to prioritize safety on farms and rural roadways across Minnesota and rural America. As recently as 2017, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the ag sector is still the most dangerous place to work in America, with 581 fatalities that year alone.

One of the more dangerous places off the farm is on rural roadways. Slow-moving vehicle signs must be present on all farm machinery and they must be clean and visible. A car traveling 55 miles-per-hour 400 feet behind a tractor moving at 15 mph will only take seven seconds to be right up on the backside of the large implement.

Rural residents need to be patient behind slow-moving farm equipment and try to stay at least 50 feet behind it. As many as 78 percent of car-farm machinery crashes take place between 3-6 pm and involve a motor vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. More than half (52%) occur when the farm implement and trailing equipment are making a left turn.

Reducing or eliminating such accidents is relatively simple: Drive safely during the fall season and be patient. Farm  families want their loved ones to return home safely, and so do yours.

Farm structures present their own safety hazards. All too often, we hear stories about farmers trapped in grain bins and the bulk of those stories don’t end well. While it may seem like a routine procedure to work around and in bins during harvest, accidents still happen, especially if farmers get in a hurry and try to take shortcuts. Use an anchored lifeline system when you work in a bin and always have a second person on hand to make sure you don’t get stuck.

The PTO is one of the biggest sources of on-farm accidents. It only takes a second to disengage the PTO and turn off the tractor, even if you’re getting off the tractor for just a moment. It’s never worth risking life and limb to save just a little time. Never, ever, step across a rotating power take-off shaft.

Keep kids safe. The farm equipment may look like a jungle gym to the kids/grandkids, but they are at risk of potentially serious injuries. Even when it’s not in use, don’t let the kids climb on the equipment. Kids love to explore, so lock up all silos and bins. Fence off manure pits and areas with water. Make sure and lock away all farm chemicals.

Last but not least, farmers need to take care of themselves. Harvest is stressful, more so this year than in many others. Get some rest. Fatigue while operating machinery is potentially dangerous to you and others around you. Take enough breaks from working and make sure to get enough rest to stay at the top of your game.

Whether you’re a veteran farmer or brand new to the game, it’s never too early to practice safety. Your family wants to make sure you come home at the end of the day.