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Farm safety urged as spring planting starts
By BONA BRADBURY
Illinois Correspondent

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — With spring planting underway in many areas of Illinois, farmers are urged to remember farm safety while in the fields and working around the farm.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, during an average day, 228 agricultural workers suffer farm-related accidents or injuries. Of those accidents, approximately 5 percent will suffer permanent, life-altering injuries. These injuries not only result in time off of work, but also can result in permanent disability or impairment.

According to the National Ag Safety Database, the average farmer, during the course of farming, will experience 10 near-injury incidents and 30 cases of property damage. However, experts claim a few simple precautions can reduce the likelihood of a farm-related accident during the spring planting season.

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service recommends some general safety measures when working with or operating machinery. Always wear the appropriate protective gear. Avoid operating machinery while overly tired or highly stressed. Do not operate equipment after consuming drugs, including over-the-counter medications, or alcohol. Both have the propensity to impair judgment and slow reaction time.

The National Ag Safety Database recommends the following general safety provisions when working with or around row-crop planters or grain drills:

•Make sure the planter or piece of equipment is firmly attached to the tractor and on the ground before commencing any service activities or adjustments.

•Thoroughly check over the equipment for any loose objects, broken belts or parts that may become loose during operation.

•Make sure the machine is turned off and stabilized when cleaning, lubricating or adjusting any part. When possible, only one person should be around the tractor and equipment when it is being serviced.

•Use extreme caution when working with the hydraulic components, it can penetrate the skin and cause a serious infection or allergic reaction. Hydraulic fluid is under a great deal of pressure and can escape from very small, nearly undetectable holes.

•Only one person should be on the tractor when it is moving. Do not allow any riders. Do not allow anyone to ride on the grain drill or planter catwalk.

•When using any agricultural chemical, handle and administer it in accordance with the label. Failure to do so may case injury to persons, animals, equipment or property. Be sure to wear appropriate personal protective gear.

•Always read and follow the owner’s manual.

Another potential danger associated with the spring season is planter/grain drill transportation. Not only is the operator traveling at a much slower speed than traffic, but the equipment is much larger than most vehicles utilizing the roadway.

The National Ag Safety Database recommends the following safety provisions when transporting plantation equipment:

•Make sure plenty of clean lights and reflectors are on the equipment. Remove dirt from any SMV signs before transporting. Be sure to use flashers while on the roadway, unless prohibited by state law or local ordinance.

•When using a tractor to transport any piece of equipment, make sure that the brakes are locked before traveling on a roadway.

•Transport a planter in the narrowest position, if possible. Make sure that all lids, boxes, arms and hoses are securely attached.

•Keep the equipment to the right of the centerline, when possible. Be courteous to other drivers and pedestrians without risking your own safety.

•Travel at a safe rate of speed. Be sure to slow down when driving over any uneven surface or maneuvering any sharp turns. For many farmers, with spring planting comes long days and late nights, but remembering some general safety precautions will not only help reduce stress during the planting season but it may save lives.

This farm news was published in the April 19, 2006 issue of Farm World.

4/19/2006