To Think About Farm Safety

On November 17, 2018

To Think About Farm Safety

Extension Agricultural Engineer asks why is it we never think about safety until it is too late? Agriculture remains on of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. During 2016 in Pennsylvania alone, 27 people were killed in farm-related accidents. Maybe one of the worst statistics is that 4 of those 27 fatalities, 15%, were under the age of 19Many of the fatalities involved tractors, skid steers, or forklifts, and tractor overturns was a leading cause.

Now that you have seen the statistics, what can you do? Well, the number one piece of safety equipment that can be used is the one that’s between your ears. Many accidents can be avoided if a little common sense is used. We all know not to try to operate a tractor from the ground or step over a running PTO shaft. So, why do it? Also use the safety equipment that comes with the tractor. A ROPS system can protect you from rollover, but only when you wear the seat belt!

Accidents involving the PTO also happen all too often. Some think that if a PTO shaft begins to grab them they can just pull away. Remember, a 540-rpm PTO shaft turns 9 times per second, and a 1,000-rpm shaft turns 16.6 times per second. Combine that with the horsepower of the engine turning it, and even Superman would have a hard time getting away. Keep PTO covers and guards in place; they do serve a purpose.

Part of farm life is children working on the farm with machinery, and these kids learn responsibility and work ethics. However, before you let your kids on machinery make sure they know how to operate it properly. Start them off slow with small, simple tasks. Also, remember that they learn by watching you. How safe are you? As Tyson visits farms he often hears of near misses from accidents, and too often perhaps we wear that near miss as a badge of honor. As has been often quoted, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

The use of some personal protection can go a long way in protection against accidents and long term exposure problems. The most common protection areas are the hands, feet, eyes, ears, and skin. The two areas we don’t protect enough are the ears and skin. Long term exposure to tractor and machinery noise can cause significant hearing loss. Many say if they wear ear plugs they can’t tell if the equipment is operating properly. Well, after 30 years of careful listening you may have a problem hearing anything at all. Skin cancer is another concern with long exposure to the sun. Simply using sunscreen and wearing a hat during the summer can significantly reduce your exposure and chances of skin problems later on.

If nothing else, use some common sense and think before you act. We don’t need to lose any more farmers or future farmers to accidents. 

To Winterize Your Sprayers

Now that most of the field spraying is over for the season and the weather is turning colder it’s time to winterize your pesticide sprayer before it gets cold and causes damage to sprayer components. Extension Agronomist Andrew Frankenfield provides the following tips to guide you.

Always wear the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when cleaning, winterizing, or simply making repairs and adjustments to your sprayer.  Remember: Pesticides are not the only chemicals that pose exposure risk. Also check the tank cleaner precautions.

Be diligent in cleaning your sprayer. This should be done after each spray but is critical before winter storage. Pesticide labels indicate proper cleaning procedures including what cleaning agent to use.Taking care of your sprayer is essential to ensure its best performance and maximize its life span. This includes following proper maintenance and storage procedures throughout the year.

Winterizing your sprayer after the season is over will help prevent damage and save you both time and money in the Spring. Be sure to read the owner’s manual for your sprayer and pump. Using the wrong material to winterize your sprayer could void the warranty.

Remove filters from sprayer and wash by hand with soapy water and rinse. Store metal filters in vegetable oil to prevent rust pitting. Then place the filter housing back on sprayer. Remove nozzles, check valves and screens. Wash them by hand with soapy water and rinse. Store metal screens in vegetable oil. Remove all pressure gauges and cap openings. Store at room temperature in an upright position. 

Remove as much water as possible from the sprayer (can use an air hose to blow out any moisture). Add RV antifreeze (see below) with corrosion preventer already added. Be sure to save the containers to collect RV antifreeze from sprayer in the Spring for reuse or proper disposal. For smaller sprayers add RV antifreeze to tank. Then use sprayer pump to circulate through the pump and all lines. For larger sprayers use a small electric pump to push RV antifreeze through pump into lines and nozzle openings (make sure flow and pressure is not greater than pump/system can handle). Connect this line via the quick fill valve. Place containers under the open nozzles to collect RV antifreeze. Stop the pump when you see pink coming out of the nozzle openings, and then cap nozzle openings to maintain fluid in system. Refer to owners’ manual for proper instructions for the other sprayer components, such as the foam marker system, flow meter, rate controller, and electronic system. 

Quote Of The Week: “Better slip with foot than tongue.” Ben Franklin