Video: PTO demonstration

I was browsing on YouTube and found this video that demonstrates how fast and how severe a PTO entanglement can be. Loose clothing and long hair that isn’t tied back can easily become tangled. I forget who it was, but I remember talking to someone who got his sleeve caught in a PTO shaft and luckily his sleeve tore off and he wasn’t pulled in.

Ideally, the best way to prevent entanglement is to make sure the PTO is off if there is anyone on the ground near it. While that might not be practical 100% of the time, the more you can think of ways to avoid having someone standing next to a running PTO shaft, the more you can reduce the risk. Stepping or reaching over a running PTO shaft is especially dangerous, and there is a strong temptation to just step or reach over if you need something on the other side rather than walking around, but it’s one of those situations where taking the extra minute to go around significantly reduces risk.

Guards are also prevent PTO entanglement, especially ones that cover the joints as well as the PTO shaft. I’ve seen multiple cover designs that have ends that are retractable or have holes cut in the guard to allow for greasing. Overall, the retractable ones seem to work better but I think it depends on the particular piece of equipment too. Check out AgriSupply for a variety of PTO guards that seem to be priced a little lower than some of the other suppliers.

Yamaha Rhino Rollover Hazard

I was doing some research on different types of ATVs and came across this article on the Yamaha Rhino. Technically the Rhino is classified as a side-by-side vehicle and not an ATV, but they are used for some of the same jobs. While all ATVs/small ground vehicles present hazards that must be addressed, it seems like the Rhino is especially dangerous due to it’s design. The base of the Rhino is too narrow for it’s weight and height, which makes it prone to tipping over. Dozens of people have been injured and several have been killed. The main way these injuries are occurring is that the open side and top of the vehicle allows passengers to fall out during a rollover and then the vehicle, which weighs several thousand pounds, falls on top of them. Usually wearing a seat belt prevents passengers from being ejected, but in some cases even passengers wearing seat belts were injured because the catch on the belt didn’t work and the belt became too loose during the rollover. Yamaha has faced dozens of lawsuits over the Rhino, and documentation from the lawsuits has shown that they were aware of some of the design flaws before it was released. They have issued recommendations for making the vehicles safer like wearing seat belts and helmets, but no recall was issued.

If you have one of these vehicles, or a different brand of vehicle that has a similar shape (tall, with a narrow wheel base), the safest thing to do is probably to replace it with a model that is more stable. If replacing the whole vehicle isn’t possible, consider installing a new seat belt or side doors, especially in pre-2010 models. At one point Yamaha was offering customers side doors for model years 2006-2008, but I haven’t been able to figure out if the upgrade is still available for free. Seat belts, side doors, and covers that fully enclose the cab are readily available online, with prices ranging from around $50 for a seat belt kit to $700 for a deluxe full cab enclosure. Riders should always use seat belts and wear an ATV or motorcycle helmet.

`Additionally, you can take steps to prevent rollover by changing your driving habits. Try to avoid driving on slopes as much as possible, and if you do drive on slopes, drive straight up and down them rather than going at an angle. Avoid ruts that can cause one side of the vehicle to drop lower than the other. Don’t load anything on top of the vehicle since this makes it more prone to tipping over. Most ATVs and utility vehicles aren’t meant for on-road use or driving at high speeds, so make sure that you’re following the guidelines for the model you own.

ATVs and utility vehicles can help make your job easier, but it’s important to be aware of the general hazards of using them as well as problems caused by particular models. I think a lot of people who own these vehicles are aware that they’re prone to tipping, but hopefully sharing this article will help people realize how big the problem is and maybe some new ways of dealing with the problem. Stay safe out there!

Here is the link to the original article:

Image result for yamaha rhino 2006


Common types of on-road collisions and how to prevent them

Here is a great article from the National Ag Safety Database that summarizes the most common scenarios for on-road collisions between farm equipment and passenger vehicles and ways to avoid them. Most of the advice in the article is for the drivers of passenger vehicles, so I’d like to add a few quick tips for farmers:

  • at the beginning of the season, make sure all slow moving vehicle signs and turn signals are in good working order.
  • Consider adding additional lights/signage to make your vehicle more visible. For implements that might stick out near the center line, adding reflective tape or magnetic flashing lights can help drivers see where the edge of the equipment is
  • Be especially cautious driving after dark or near sunrise/sunset
  • Keep field entrances clear of trees and vegetation as much as possible. This helps make it easier for you to see other vehicles and for them to see you when you are pulling out on to the road
  • Try to avoid busy roads and peak travel times as much as possible.

Click on the link below to see the article by NASD

Related image

Video: Shake Hands With Danger (1980 Caterpillar safety video)

I saw this on Facebook the other day and thought it was hilarious. It’s a 1980 safety video produced by caterpillar. The safety recommendations they make are correct and relevant for heavy equipment operators and farm mechanics. The 30+ year old special effects and the music make it a fun one to watch. Enjoy the video, and don’t shake hands with danger!

National ROPS Rebate Program

With planting and mowing season coming up, I thought I’d remind everyone that the National ROPS Rebate Program can help you purchase a rollover protection structure for your tractor at up to 70% off. Even though the number of tractor rollover deaths have decreased since the 1980’s, over 100 farmers are killed in tractor rollovers each year, and hundreds more are injured. According to the National Agricultural Safety Database, using a rollover protection structure with a seat belt is 99.9% effective in preventing death or serious injury during a rollover.

Image result for why using a seatbelt with rops is important

Nowadays most tractor rollovers happen while doing odd jobs like mowing, pulling stumps, yard and ditch work, etc. This is because older, smaller tractors that don’t have rollover protection tend to be used for these tasks. Farmers over the age of 65 and children tend to be at higher risk of experiencing a rollover. This may be in part because older and younger people tend to do the odd jobs that are more prone to rollover, or possibly because they might not have the same ability to respond to the situation as a younger adult driver.

In any case, using a rollover protection structure and seat belt every time you use a tractor is one of the biggest things you can do to prevent you or someone else from dying as a result of farm work. The National ROPS Rebate Program provides a variety of options to help you get rollover protection for all of your tractors. Conversion kits are available even for antique tractors and there are also versions that can fold down if being able to get in a barn with a low ceiling is what is preventing you from getting the last of your tractors updated. Click on the link below to see what options are available in your state!

Road safety

With planting season around the corner, it’s a good time for farmers and other drivers to review some tips on road safety. One of the best things you can do to prepare for a safe planting season is to check that all of your lights and signals are working, and to replace any slow moving vehicle signs that are getting faded. I know a number of people who study rural driving safety, and they tell me that signs, lights, and signals make a huge difference in preventing collisions. The article below by Farm Bureau Financial Services provides a good summary of things to look for as you’re getting ready for spring.

If you find that you need some new signs, check out these ones from Road Traffic Signs .com:

Slow Moving Vehicle, Fluorescent Steel Sign, 16"x14"

Preventing Fires During Harvest

Here is another harvest safety article on fire prevention.  I vaguely remember our combine catching fire when I was little. I think we caught it early, and there wasn’t much damage.  Someone that lives down the road from us wasn’t so lucky 2 years ago.  They made it out in time, but their combine was a total loss and the burnt out shell ended up sitting out in their field for several months before they were able to break it up and have it hauled it away as scrap.  Fires can move quickly, causing property damage and putting the operator at risk.

Click here to see the article

Preventative maintenance is the best way to minimize the risk of fire. Clean out dust and debris before the start of the season and as often as you can during harvest.  Also check wiring and bearings for signs of damage at the beginning of the season. Pay especially close attention to the wiring if you see signs that mice have been in your combine while it was parked. I don’t know why mice enjoy chewing on wires so much, but it seems like every few years we find something they’ve chewed up and wreaked.

Having a fire extinguisher handy is also recommended.  Since most tractor fires are petroleum based, make sure you get an ABC-type extinguisher. The National Agricultural Safety Database recommends the 5-pound size extinguisher for tractors and combines.Click here to see the NASDB’s recommendations for ag fire extinguishers. Extinguishers cost as little as $30 so it’s not a big expense.  Keep an eye on the expiration dates, and make sure that extinguishers are replaced as needed.

If you see signs of smoke, get out of the cab right away. Use caution if you try to put the fire out yourself.  Surfaces can become hot very quickly, and if you open on a panel on an area that is on fire, the increased airflow can cause the fire to expand quickly and expand outside of the compartment.  When in doubt, call the fire department!
Image result for combine fire

October is Ergonomics Month

October is Ergonomics month so I thought I’d mix some ergonomics articles in with the harvest safety articles.  The article I’m sharing today is from the local channel 2 news in Iowa City about a farm equipment vibrations study by two University of Iowa professors. I’ve been able to see some of the equipment for their study and it’s really neat.

Click here to see the article

Vibration has been studied extensively in other jobs like construction work and trucking, but this is one of the few studies that has focused on farm equipment.  Full body vibration is a major cause of lower back pain, and can cause pain in other parts of the body too.  There are a number of strategies for reducing the effects of vibration, although some of the strategies are not very practical for farmers: reduce the number of hours spent operating equipment,  sit up straight and don’t twist or bend while operating equipment, invest in newer machines that require less force to operate the controls…Other strategies such as wearing a back brace or taking a break to get up and stretch every hour or so are more practical, but there have been mixed results as to whether or not they are effective at preventing vibration-related pain.   Vibration-reducing seats have been shown to reduce exposure and increase comfort levels for truckers, and are available for tractors too.  They can be pretty pricey (A quick Google search came up with models ranging in price from $150-$2000) but might be worth the investment if it makes driving more comfortable.

Related image

Hay Baling Safety

It’s that time of the summer where everyone is putting up hay, so I thought I’d share some baling safety tips. Whether you do small squares, big squares, round bales, or silage it can be a particularly dangerous job. The article from is mostly about avoiding machinery hazards like spinning PTO shafts, stored energy in flywheels, and rollover hazards while moving bales.

Click here to see the article
Image result for baling hay

I’d also like to add a few  suggestions specific to baling and unloading small squares that have come up in my personal experience.  Having spent many hours loading and unloading hay, and having experienced several injuries in the process here are a few things to look out for:

-Climbing on and off of moving wagons while loading is particularly risky.  There are lots of hidden bumps and holes in fields so it’s easy to fall or to twist an ankle or knee, plus there is a risk of being run over if you fall.  Stopping when someone needs to get on and off a wagon takes less than a minute and it’s much safer.

-If you’re using a thrower, don’t have someone in the wagon trying to stack. The few people I know that have tried this have all been knocked over by falling bales multiple times and it’s really easy to get hurt doing it.

-Take precautions against overheating when baling and unloading in hot weather. Heat exhaustion is the most common problem I’ve seen people have when handling hay.  Be especially cautious with newer employees who might not be used to working in the heat.  Encourage everyone to take breaks as needed rather than trying to tough it out, and consider waiting until later in the afternoon to bale if it’s particularly hot out.

Click here for an article about working outdoors in summer heat

-Keep your wagons in good condition and make sure there are no holes or gaps in the floor of the wagon. Putting your foot through the floor or tripping on a gap between boards while you’re carrying a bale or two is an easy way to get hurt.

-Bale elevators are another hazard that a lot of baling safety guides seem to miss. The teeth that carry the bales can be sharp, especially if they’ve worn down over time.  The drive belt can be a hazard too, especially if the guard is missing.  It’s important to keep some space between where the bottom of the elevator sits and where people are walking or standing to load bales.  If you’re using the elevator on an incline, be sure to anchor the top and the bottom of the elevator so that it doesn’t slide down.  Try to minimize the distance the bales have to fall as they come off the end, and don’t walk under or climb on the elevator when it’s running.

-Make sure that you are using protective equipment when baling.  I have a sound meter app on my phone and the sound level of our tractor and baler was about 95 decibels, which is enough to cause damage after only a few hours of exposure.  Sun exposure is another problem. Even if you don’t burn normally, being out in the sun for hours in an open field can cause burns and skin damage.  You may also want to consider wearing a mask and/or eye protection, especially if you have allergies or are baling hay that is particularly dusty or potentially moldy.  The worst experience I’ve had farming was  an allergic reaction in my eyes from baling rained-on hay that was starting to mold. My corneas swelled and I had to spend almost a week in a dark room because I was so sensitive to light. Being aware of the environmental conditions and taking the appropriate precautions can save you a lot of trouble later on!

Those are some of the main hazards that come to mind when I think of the ways people I know have been injured while handling hay. Stay safe out there, and if I think of anything else I’ll be sure to add it to the list!