Harvesting safely: precautions for agricultural workers

The harvest season is the time of farm safety awareness. Time pressures, logistics, workloads and the weather all impact upon the working day. Harvesting equipment can be some of the most dangerous machinery that farm employees will encounter. Particularly for seasonal workers, casuals and farm students, who may be less familiar with the kit, the systems and the way it operates.

Before harvest starts, ensure you provide your employees with full training for each piece of equipment:

  • Prepare your equipment for harvest during the off-peak season to ensure it is in proper working order before you begin.
  • Review operation manuals and maintenance guidelines for all machinery before the season begins.
  • Always check that all guards and shields are secure.
  • Inspect the fields for any changes since the last harvest, including excess debris or driving hazards such as fallen tree branches and debris thrown from vehicles along the road.
  • Remove items that pose hazards such as stumps and large stones (where possible), and clearly mark hazards that cannot be removed. Take particular note of fields in which overhead power lines are present.
  • Carefully assess your harvest workload by planning operations pre entry to the field. For example, for driving directly up and down steep hills to prevent your vehicle overturning.
  • Make sure all lights and brakes are operational on all tractors and trailers. Make sure all 50KPH tractors hauling 14+ tonnes trailers are fitted with appropriate braking systems.
  • Inspect all machines to ensure they are correctly set up. For instance, a 540-rpm mower should not be connected to a 1,000-rpm power take-off (PTO). Operating a mower at excessively high speeds can cause machine malfunctions, and injuries to the driver from falling debris.
  • Check lights and warning reflectors on all equipment are fully functional.
  • Make sure all drying systems and grain handling systems are serviced and maintained, including any heater systems used for grain drying.

Are you ready?

Your equipment is not the only thing that must be ready to harvest. Operating machinery when you are fatigued, ill or under the influence of alcohol or drugs can result in injuries. Before anything else, prepare your body for the season.

Operating a safe working environment can help farming businesses to thrive; and could just save a life.

Get in touch to arrange a farming and agriculture risk management audit.

Source Zywave– Playing it safe agriculture Harvesting Safety

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