By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
UNION COUNTY, Ohio — Weather patterns for the spring of 2020 look similar to last year’s. That means a short window for planting, which equals stress for farmers. Stress can cause accidents.
Farmers should be cautious, take a step back, think through what they’re doing. No one wants a trip to the emergency room, ever, but especially during COVID19.
Safety experts Wayne Dellinger of Ohio State University(OSU) Extension, and Dee Jepson, OSU Ag Extension Safety Leader, offered some suggestions.
“When farmers are trying to get things finished in a hurry, they might take shortcuts with safety practices,” Dellinger said. “Getting tired, your attention span gets shorter. Think through what you’re doing. Realize that taking a short cut could cause an injury and have long term effects.”
It gets a chuckle sometimes, Dellinger said, but he encouraged farmers to stay as rested as possible. If you can’t get in the field because of weather or other things, take that time to make sure your equipment is ready.
“When you have that window to plant, you don’t want to find out that you have a problem with something,” he said. “Make sure your equipment is serviced; be ready to go when you do get that opportunity, and that itself will reduce some of the stress.”
Slips, trips, and falls are still the number one injury of any workplace, but it is especially important in agriculture to make sure shops and work areas are tidy, said Jepson. If you dribbled grease, clean it up. That slippery area can cause a fall.
“Farmers are doing equipment maintenance now,” she said. “They’re making sure all the adjustments are correct on the equipment; it’s convenient to leave tools around as they’re working so they can access them quickly. But then put them away.”
Clutter is a fire hazard; leaving greasy rags lying around, not picking up the trash, can start fires and cause accidents, Jepson said. Store chemicals properly; stab containers with a knife when they’re empty, so they’re not reused.
With more kids at home now, helping them stay safe is crucial, Dellinger said. Don’t let kids play around farm equipment.
“With the size of our equipment right now, we can see for miles, but we often can’t see what is right in front of the wheels,” he explained. “If you allow kids to have the state of mind that it is okay to play in those areas there is a risk for catastrophic consequences. Kids do not belong around this equipment.”
Also, the extra or instructor’s seat in tractor cabs are just that, Jepson said. They are for someone who is teaching the driver how to operate equipment, or a technician observing. And those seats have seatbelts.
“I see pictures on social media with infants in car seats, asleep, on the floor. I see toddlers asleep, curled up next to the pedals,” Dellinger said. “That is not where they need to be. I understand that farming is one of the unique occupations that people have where families can do a lot of things together, but there’s a time and a place for that. This equipment, the size, the power that we’ve got, is not a place for kids.” Added Jepson: “Kids are riding around in cabs, and they start school with hearing loss because they’ve been exposed to the heavy, industrial noises that come with farming.”
For information about keeping young people safe on the farm visit: https://ag-safety.extension.org/safety-in-agriculture-for-youth/.