A few weeks ago I went to the Midwestern Regional Agricultural Safety and Health (MRASH) conference in Council Bluffs Iowa to present the results of the part of my research that developed the agricultural self-report system. At the conference, farmers and ag safety people meet to talk research and different strategies they’ve tried to improve safety.
One of the farmers at the conference talked about system they were using at their large grain operation and it seemed pretty easy and useful so I thought I’d share it here. Basically, what they do is have everyone carry around cheap red tags that hold on with wire and a marker. If a piece of equipment is broken or being worked on, they write the problem on the tag and attach it in an obvious spot like the steering wheel or hitch or key so that if anyone else tries to move it or use it they know there is a problem and have what is going on with that piece of equipment. It’s a variation of a safety strategy called lock out tag out, which involves putting a lock or a tag on a piece of equipment so that no one can physically turn it on while it is being worked on. It might be particularly useful for larger farms where not everyone knows immediately about every single problem. It’s a pretty cheap solution too. You can find the tags at most office supply stores and it’s less than $10 for a huge box of them.
This tagging system is one way to avoid the types of incidents where one person is working on something and then another person turns on the machine. The example they were talking about at the conference was a case where someone was working on a silo unloader and almost lost their arm because another employee didn’t know they were in there and started running silage. It would also prevent equipment damage caused by someone trying to use something that is already broken.