Safety on the Farm

Ag Biz News Column
By: Chad Gulley
County Extension Agent–Ag/NR

Safety on the Farm

                Safety on the farm is important especially around livestock and equipment.  Working around livestock, even gentle livestock, can lead to accidents.  Using heavy equipment such as tractors and equipment can lead to injury if not used properly.  Many people today have all terrain vehicles (ATV) they use to feed and for other jobs on the farm. Safe operation of the ATV is important.  Farming and ranching can be one of the more dangerous jobs.

When working around livestock, remember that all livestock have a flight zone.  How big that flight zone is will vary.  For some livestock this may be from 5 to 25 feet while other livestock it may be over 300 feet.   If cornered, livestock may run over you to get away or to go to other livestock.  In crowded areas, livestock may even kick to back you off.

Right now, farmers are producing their crops whether it is vegetables or hay production.  Safely using tractors, tillers, and hay equipment is important.  Be sure all guards/shields are in place.  When using mowers, keep hands and feet away from blades and the power take off when it is in operation.  The cuff of the shirt, sleeves, pants, or even long hair can get wrapped up in the turning parts of this equipment causing serious injury and even death.  When baling hay, turn off the power take off when working on the hay baler.  I have known people hurt around hay equipment especially the pickup reel of the hay baler by working on it while it was in operation.  Use the safety features on your equipment especially hay balers when working on belts, chains, or under the tailgate to prevent serious injury.

Transporting or moving hay, especially large rolls of hay should be done with the proper sized tractor, properly inflated tires, and properly sized lifting equipment.  Drive slowly when moving hay near sloped areas.  Tractor Roll-Over Protection Structures (ROPS) should be in place no matter what the farming task is.

Be sure to take precautions on roads where farming activity occurs.  From time to time, tractors may be crossing roads from one farm to the next.  In Texas, farm tractors should be equipped with a slow-moving-vehicle (SMV) emblem on the rear of the tractor.  If the tractor is towing another piece of equipment and the SMV is blocked from sight, the equipment being towed should have an SMV on it as well.  Tractors are required to have two forward-facing headlights and a red taillight that burns constantly.  Tractor drivers should observe all traffic laws while driving on highways to protect themselves and others on the highway.

Accidental run over by tractors may be a result of being in a hurry.  Accidentally falling from or being thrown from the tractor causes injuries.  Be sure to use the parking brake especially on sloped areas can avoid injury.  Avoid trying to crank tractors while standing on the ground next to the tractor.  When hooking up to equipment move out of the way until the tractor is in place to avoid pinch points or crush points.

When handling chemicals on the farm, be sure to follow all label recommendations when mixing and loading these products.  Getting these products in your eyes, on your skin, or breathing in the product may cause serious injury.  If this occurs, be sure to take a copy of the label with you when seeking medical attention as the label will have important information for the physicians.  Never mix chemicals unless the label indicates the two products are compatible.  Be careful around flammable solutions as well.

Another area farmers and ranchers may get injured is using tools like chain saws.  With dead trees and other debris near fences, chain saws can quickly cause injury.  Take your time and use caution with these tools.  Observe your surroundings before falling dead trees to avoid injury to yourself or others.  Be careful around power lines where dead trees are located.  Contact the utility companies if you need to remove trees or limbs in these areas.

Farming and ranching are important as they produce food and fiber for all of us on a daily basis.  Safety is important as accidents can happen quickly on the farm.  Being careful and take your time around livestock and farm equipment.

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

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