Today I’m sharing an article from AgWeb explaining how harvest this year might be even more hazardous than usual. A lot of crops were planted late this year. This means that moisture content will be higher, which increases the risk of mold and the risk that grain will stick to the sides of bins and equipment, which could create additional engulfment and equipment hazards. Late planting also means later harvest, which in turn means that more people will be on the road during sunset (which tends to be the most dangerous time to move equipment) and after dark. Pushing harvest later also makes it more likely that farmers will have to deal with frost damage and snow.
While a later harvest can’t be helped, there are things that farmers can do to deal with the extra hazards that come with it. It’s difficult to be patient, especially with winter weather coming, but the more you can wait for grain to be properly dry, the more you can avoid the group of hazards that go with wet grain, plus you’ll save on drying costs. Always follow proper grain bin entry procedures, including wearing a harness, not working in the bin alone, and wearing proper respirtory protection. If your grain is running really far behind, consider other options like making silage rather than trying to force it in if it isn’t going to be ready. Make sure that equipment lighting and slow moving vehicle signs on harvest equipment are good to go now, and consider adding additional lighting or some of the newer slow moving vehicle signs that are more reflective. The conditions this year have been far from ideal, but a little bit of preparation will help deal with some of the hazards that come with a late harvest.
I was browsing through the National Ag Safety Database and came across an article on electrical safety. Since a lot of us deal with electricity on a daily basis in the form of electric fences, lighting, electrical systems in machinery, electric water pumps, etc I thought I’d share. Electrical systems don’t hold up well in the farm environment, so it’s good to keep reminding yourself how to avoid getting shocked. I’d like to add that even if you’re not working on an electrical system, keep an eye out for any wires that might be in the area, and if at all possible make sure that any electrical systems in the area are totally shut off. I know a few people who have gotten shocked fixing equipment because mice had damaged the insulation on some of the wires that were in the same area as whatever they were fixing. Another hazard to be aware of that the article doesn’t mention is capacitors. Capacitors are round or cylinder shaped devices (see picture for some examples) used to store then output charge in electrical systems. The amount of time a capacitor can store a charge depends on the size and the quality of the capacitor, to the point where some of the nicer ones can hold a charge for years. Err on the safe side and always assume that a capacitor is charged if you encounter one!
It’s been a while since I posted an article on hogs, so here is a nice summary of some of the hazards found on hog farms published by the North Carolina Swine Veterinary Group. I think most people who work on hog farms are familiar with most of these hazards, but it was an interesting read for me because it gave enough information to see how hazards on hog farms are similar and different from the hazards on beef farms. In particular, hog farmers are at higher risk for contracting a zoonotic infections since there is a bigger overlap between diseases hogs can get and diseases pigs can get. The manure gas hazard and respiratory hazards in general seem to be more of a problem in hog farming too, due to the higher concentration of animals and enclosed buildings. On the other hand, the risk of being injured while handling hogs is lower. Otherwise, many of the risks seem similar: ergonomic issues, noise, heavy machinery, needlestick injuries, and working alone. Here is the link to the original article if you’d like to check it out!
The Great Plains Center at the University of Iowa is doing a study on what factors contribute to safer farms. The study involves a 60-90 minute farm visit, with appointments available 7 days a week and compensation is $50. They’re promoting the study through a Facebook event page, so if you’re interested you can check out the event page through the link below.
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.