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Safety Tips for Harvest Time

Mike Gretzinger unplugging the combine after harvesting some hemp.

Harvest time is a busy time of the year. It is hustle and bustle to get everything done on time. In the rushed panic, safety may not be on everyone’s mind. To help keep everyone safe during harvest, here are tips for harvest safety.

The first step is to be aware of the hazards and how to avoid them or safely manage them. Entanglements, when your combine or baler gets plugged, is a huge accident waiting to happen. To avoid entanglements here are a few tips:

  • Operate equipment with attention and care.
  • Ensure all protective guards and shields are securely in place.
  • Clear plugged equipment only after the power is turned off and the key is sitting in your pocket.
  • Don’t overestimate your ability to react. Entanglement injuries can happen in the blink of an eye.
  • In wet field conditions, wait a few hours or an extra day, if possible, to reduce plugging.
  • If you have to harvest in marginal conditions, expect crops to plug the equipment and allow extra time to unplug it.
A plugged up combine can be a hazard if not taken care of properly!

The next step to avoid hazards is to not slip up. Literally. Many injuries are related to slips and fall around farm machines. During the average workday, farmers mount and dismount the combine dozens of times. The height of the combine means falls can cause serious injuries. Then there is a slip factor in the equation. Ladders and platforms are slippery in normal conditions and are even more so when wet, muddy, icy or coated in crop residue. To prevent painful falls, you can:

Keeping your equipment in top condition can help you avoid hazards as well.
  • Keep platforms free of tools or other objects.
  • Clean ladders, steps and platforms regularly.
  • Wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes with non- slip soles.
  • Use the grab bars when mounting or dismounting
  • Find a stable position to refuel or perform maintenance.
  • Use three points of contact when getting in or out of machinery- one hand/ two feet or two hands/ one foot.
  • Don’t underestimate the impact of fatigue, stress or age on your stability.

Harvest time is the most productive time and the pressure may be on to finish while good weather holds, but if you aren’t careful you may increase the risk of injury. Read more about other farm safety resources to avoid injuries all year round.