A loose shoelace; a few stray threads from a ragged old coat;
long hair flowing out from under a cap.
These seem like minor things. Yet they can be - and have been
- responsible for horrendous injury or death as a result of
entanglement in operating farm machinery.
The Canadian Agricultural Injury Surveillance Program (CAISP)
found that entanglement in operating machinery was the leading
circumstance associated with hospitalized farm injuries in Ontario.
During CAISP's 1986 through 1995 study period, entanglement
accounted for 858 hospitalizations - about 40 percent of the
Safety around farm equipment depends on knowledge of hazards.
Armed with this information, alert machinery operators make
a conscious effort to minimize and avoid accident risks.
Proper clothing plays a significant role in entanglement prevention.
It is something that every operator needs to consider before
The principles behind "dressing up" for safety seem pretty obvious.
Yet it is easy to fall into bad habits that increase accident
risk. Consider the farmer who for months - or even years - has
thrown on the same coat to go to the barn. Over time, the garment
may develop a number of small rips. Perhaps some of the stitching
has given way and left a pocket hanging loose. The chances of
this coat becoming entangled in operating equipment have increased
greatly, simply due to normal wear and tear.
Obviously, this ragged old coat should be retired from service.
To make this decision, an individual has to be aware
of the risk that the torn garment represents. You have to be
conscious of the safety status of your work wear to make the
The following guidelines provide a basis for selecting appropriate
attire to wear when working around farm machinery.
Steel-toed safety footwear is recommended. Boots
should be properly and firmly tied at all times - dangling laces
can easily become entangled in rotating machine parts. Use the
correct length of lace for the boot or shoe, to minimize the
amount of lace end hanging out from the knot.
Choose footwear with slip-resistant soles. A number of machine
entanglements have occurred as a result of victims slipping
and falling into operating equipment.
should be close-fitting and comfortable. Avoid wide
bell-bottoms or other designs that leave considerable material
exposed for possible entanglement. Pants should be short enough
that they don't drag on the ground.
Wear a belt or suspenders to keep pants up. A pair of pants
that are constantly slipping off the hips are sure to be uncomfortable
and will tend to "bag", thereby presenting more material for
should conform to the same criteria as pants.
That is, they should be close-fitting and comfortable. Be on
the lookout for tears or loose threads that could be caught
by machinery parts.
Safety experts recommend buttoning the cuffs of long-sleeved
shirts. Rolled-up sleeves are easily caught by machinery.
Coats and Jackets
should also be reasonably close-fitting,
untorn, and free from loose threads. Many winter coats incorporate
a number of drawstrings, dangling ribbons attached to zippers,
etc. It's best to choose a coat that doesn't have these features.
Machinery operators should remove drawstrings and any other
items that invite entanglement. Also, keep coats and jackets
zipped or buttoned up to reduce the entanglement risk.
Winter coats can catch on tractor gear shift levers or other
controls. Take extra care to prevent this from happening when
climbing down from machinery.
should protect against the elements and workplace
hazards. Hard hats are recommended if there is danger from falling
objects or overhead obstructions. They are definitely recommended
for felling or trimming trees.
Loose, long hair is quite vulnerable to entanglement
in rotating shafts and other operating machine parts. Long hair
should be well tied when working with machinery. Best bet is
to keep it under your hat.
While not so much a factor in entanglement prevention, a number
of personal safety devices may be required to protect equipment
operators. The nature of a particular job will dictate the need
for the following personal protective items.
is very important when an operator is
likely to be exposed to chemicals, dust, chaff, or flying particles.
Safety glasses, goggles and face shields are available. Select
the right protection for the type of hazards that are likely
to be encountered.
will be required if equipment doesn't
have a sound proof cab. Acoustical earmuffs provide the most
effective protection against noise. Many operators find them
more comfortable than earplugs, which can also carry dirt into
the ear canal.
If gloves are required, make sure they fit!
Gloves that are too big are cumbersome when operating machinery.
They can easily be caught by moving parts, which could result
in amputation of a finger or hand.
A filter mask may be needed if
the operator is exposed to a lot of dust and chaff. Chemical
cartridge respirators should be worn when applying pesticides
with an open tractor. Consult product labels and/or suppliers
for detailed information about appropriate respiratory protection.
Think About What You'll be Wearing this Season
To minimize potential for entanglement or other machinery-related
accidents, it is crucial to know what the hazards are, and what
steps need to be taken to avoid them.
Think about the clothes you wear when operating farm equipment.
Are there items that should be replaced because of wear and
tear? Are certain garments simply unsuitable for the job? Do
certain items require modification to make them safe?
Following is a summary checklist of the safety wear recommendations
presented in this fact sheet. This can be used to evaluate your
own work wear, and to check that employees and family members
are also properly dressed for safe equipment operation.
rid of items that are baggy, torn or too long.
it a habit to button up and zip up.
drawstrings and other dangling add-ons.
wear slip-resistant safety footwear.
long hair tied up and under your hat.
appropriate personal protective equipment. Base your selection
of protective devices on the hazards presented by the job,
and by precautions printed on product labels.
The information and recommendations contained in this publication
are believed to be reliable and representative of contemporary
expert opinion on the subject material. The Farm Safety Association
does not guarantee absolute accuracy or sufficiency of subject
material, nor can it accept responsibility for health and safety
recommendations that may have been omitted due to particular
and exceptional conditions and circumstances.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.