Preparation key to safe harvest

Monday, October 18, 2010

With the fall harvest season in full swing and near perfect weather conditions enhancing the process, most area farmers have already, or will soon, incorprate these handy harvesting tips:

Equipment should be made harvest-ready in the off-season, or at least several weeks before use. It takes time to get machinery into safe, efficient operating condition. You may also need lead time to get replacement parts.

Perform all routine maintenance on schedule. Fuel up and lubricate equipment so it's ready for the next day. Take steps to prevent condensation and corrosion.

Never clean, oil or adjust any equipment when it is running. Always make sure the machine has stopped operating to avoid injury.

Secure all guards and shields before starting equipment. These protective devices reduce the chance that people will get caught in moving parts.

Hydraulically raised equipment should be securely blocked before anyone starts working around or under the machine. Do not operate the hydraulic controls from beside or behind the tractor. Operate them only from the tractor seat so you will have full control over the entire machine.

Never attempt to clear plugged equipment by hand while power is engaged. A person can be dragged into the machine in a matter of seconds if the machine suddenly clears itself. Modern equipment is powerful. Entanglement may result in loss of limb or even death. Alert operators develop a habit of shutting off the power before leaving the driver's seat.

Never stand behind or under the discharge spout of an operating crop harvester. Hard objects coming out of the spout become dangerous projectiles. Completely stop the harvester before hooking up wagons to avoid being hit by objects from the spout.

Fire is a hazard in the field, particularly during cereal grain harvest. Every piece of powered equipment should carry a fire extinguisher.

Do not allow children around machinery. Far too many tragedies occur when youngsters end up in the path of equipment and operators have a restricted view.

Safe harvests begin with the prevention of accidents. Watching the weather and making sure equipment is in the proper working order will help bring in a crop in good condition in a timely fashion.