Prepare for Harvest Safety (News Release)

You might not be able to begin harvesting grain, but you can prepare yourself and others for safety during the busy harvest season.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, about half of the 500 reported injuries from farm machinery and equipment occur each year during the months of August, September, October, and November. Many of the serious injuries occur when farm workers take shortcuts in performing routine tasks, or stress and fatigue take their toll.

Here are ways you can minimize your risks during harvest:

  • Review equipment manuals. You may be less familiar with seasonal equipment used only a few days each year than with equipment you use daily. The manuals contain important operating instructions and information about situations that pose possible dangers or risk.
  • Scout fields for weed problems. Late season weeds often lead to plugging in harvest machines. To avoid delays, or the temptation to unplug machines while the engine is running, strive for good control of late season weeds. If that's not possible, make a mental note of problem areas so that you can plan harvest accordingly.
  • Assess crop conditions. Adjust machine settings to current or expected crop conditions. For example, if ears of corn are small, stripper bars should be set closer together on the cornhead.
  • Perform routine maintenance. Check the gathering unit area on combines, corn pickers, or forage harvesters. Replace loose or worn belts. Check hydraulic lines and connections, and replace worn components. Make sure all shields and guards are secure, as well as grab bars on platforms.
  • Survey fields for other problems. Mark stumps, large stones, or other obstacles that might not be visible in the field at harvest. Shallow ditches or drop-offs that may have been safe for a tractor or planter may not be safe for a combine.
  • Develop a professional attitude toward safety. Like work in other industries, safety adds to the bottom line. Do what you can to be safe during harvest this year; don't rely on good luck.

This news release was distributed by Iowa State University Extension as part of the Safe Farm program. Safe Farm promotes health and safety in agriculture. It is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Iowa State University, and a network of groups that serve Iowa farm workers and their families. Distribution date: August 1992.

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. More