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University of Minnesota Extension

Spring Equipment Safety

Source: Karen Johnson, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, Livestock, 320-484-4303, ande9495@umn.edu

Mother nature has been teasing us with what seems to be spring-like weather. Although we are not quite ready to hit the fields full force, now is an excellent time to think of what you can do to prepare for a safe planting season. Remember, safety on the farm needs to be practiced every day no matter the task you, your family or your farm employees are doing.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), agriculture continues to rank amongst the most hazardous industries. In 2021, workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry experienced one of the highest fatal injury rates at 20 deaths per 100,000 full-time workers.

Transportation incidents, including tractor overturns and roadway crashes, were the leading cause of death for farmers and farm workers. Other leading causes were contact with objects and equipment, violence by other persons or animals, and falls, slips and trips. In 2020, there were 11,880 injuries in agricultural production that required days away from work, however, there is a well-known underreporting of injuries in this industry. This is just another reason why farm safety needs to be practiced every day to prevent serious or fatal injuries on our farms.

As you are preparing for planting season, here are several suggestions to keep in mind:  

  • Before operating, fully understand the equipment’s capabilities and hazard potential. Don’t use equipment for tasks that it was not designed for.
  • Use all modern safety features – such as Roll Over Protection Structures (ROPS), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and seat belts
  • One Seat = One Person – Not only do extra riders distract the operator, but there is also no safe place in the majority of farm equipment for an additional person
  • Understand all laws of the center of gravity and centrifugal force to prevent rollovers
  • Follow all manufacturer’s recommendations for pulling equipment with the hitch and/or using the hydraulic lifts on the equipment – including proper bucket position and hitch points
  • Use handholds and care when getting on and off equipment to avoid slips and falls
  • Ensure the equipment is properly maintained and cared for

In conclusion, by utilizing these suggestions on an everyday basis, you can provide a safe and healthy workplace for yourself and your workers. We all need to keep farm safety in mind to ensure that a severe or fatal injury never occurs on our farms. For more information, please check out the UMN Extension Farm Safety website at extension.umn.edu/safety/farm-safety or the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH) at umash.umn.edu

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