Keep farm safety top-of-mind this harvest season

The sound of the combine is in the air as harvest returns to Minnesota farm country. But as farmers work to beat the next round of rain (or worse, snow), it is imperative safety remains top-of-mind.

Here are some safety tips to review before the long hours begin:

  • Road safety: Ensure “Slow Moving Vehicle” signs on all farm equipment are large and observable for oncoming traffic. And double check that all lights, signals and flashers are working properly before hitting the road.
  • Equipment safety: Take time to educate children and all helping about farm equipment safety, even if it is a refresher from last year. Anyone approaching equipment should make sure it has stopped moving and make eye contact with the operator so he or she knows someone is approaching. Always avoid pinch points between tractors or grain wagons.
  • Entanglement hazard: Disengage power and remove energy before trying to unplug a plant from the machinery, and always ensure shields are in place to prevent disaster. 
  • Grain wagon and bin safety: Never exceed maximum weight limits when loading and ensure weight is evenly distributed to prevent instability. For more on grain bin safety, watch this video
  • Most importantly, rest is king: Harvest is not the time to ignore one’s health. Breaks and time for food are key to keep the mind sharp and prevent missteps that lead to disaster. Get out of the combine to stretch. Stay hydrated and pack nutritious snacks or meals for energy.

Harvest can also be a particularly stressful time for farmers. For anyone experiencing stress, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture launched to provide farmers with resources to help navigate financial, emotional, legal, family and other challenges on the farm. Resources include the Farm & Rural Helpline (833-600-2670), which is answered 24/7 by staff who are trained to help farmers struggling with stress or depression.

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