Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Harvest time in Minnesota is dangerous for a number of reasons. Farmers are working in fields, on farmsteads, and driving on roadways. Everything is rushed to harvest crops before winter and to prepare the farm for the first snow. Farm operators and families must set priorities to make their farms safer. Use a tractor with rollover protection if possible while pulling wagons, mowing or performing any job where stability is a factor. On jobs where the tractor is to remain stationary (like operating a PTO-driven auger), an older tractor without a rollbar is okay, but only as long as all shields are in place and the work area is arranged where operators will not be "tempted" to step over rotating equipment. Make sure ALL equipment that will operate on public roadways has a clearly visible slow-moving vehicle emblem, flashing amber lights and other appropriate lighting and marking. I strongly recommend using your flashers at ALL times, since they will alert oncoming traffic to slow down. If you are over the age of 45, please realize that your body has certain limits, regardless of how fit you are. Take breaks to stretch and get a cup or two of cool water. Eating small, but frequent meals will also help ward off fatigue. An occasional candy bar or can of soda is okay, but make sure to include healthy snacks. Your body, like a machine, needs the right fuel to handle the stresses you place on it. For more tips to make your farm a safer place, visit www.safety.coafes.umn.edu. John Shutske is an agricultural safety and health specialist with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.