How Does Safety Rate on Your Farm or Ranch?

  • Karsky, Thomas J.;
  • Jaussi, A. K.

Each year many people die or are seriously injured in farm and ranch accidents. Most of these accidents are preventable. This checklist can be a guideline for farm and ranch operations in evaluating each particular circumstance. Unsafe acts or conditions, faulty equipment, or human error often cause accidents that may result in injury, death, or property damage.
An inspection of your workplace will help prevent injuries by identifying hazards, recording them, and taking corrective action. You must be committed to correcting the hazards in some manner if you are to succeed in reducing accident potential.

Aspects of Workplace Inspection
 Your inspection should not be taken lightly. You may need several family members or workers, or an outside set of eyes to see some hazards that you may pass every day. No work area can be 100 percent free of hazards. Include the questions "Who, What, Where, When, and How" for each area examined.

When to Inspect
Many locations on a farm or ranch can be inspected year round. The home buildings and other structures are examples of this. Machinery and equipment can best be inspected when gearing up for work in early spring, or in operation. Static inspection examines the machine itself (shields and guards, decals, wear and tear on parts), while an inspection during equipment operation looks at unsafe acts of the operator or hazards in the field.

How to Compete the Inspection
As you go through the various sections of the following inspection checklist, answer the questions or statements by checking "Yes" or "No". If you have answered "Yes", no action is required. If you have answered "No", then a hazard exists requiring corrective action. You should then determine a priority level for the hazard to indicate the urgency of the corrective action: Priority level You should determine a priority level for the hazard to indicate the urgency of the corrective action:

    A Major
    Life-threatening or serious injury potential
    B Serious
    Injury or property damage corrections in the short term
    C Minor
    Long term action can correct the problem
Indicate a realistic target date to correct the hazard on the attached sheets. When a hazard has been corrected, check it off in the last column.

Check List

Written by Tom Karsky, University of Idaho, and A. K. Jaussi, former graduate assistant, Washington State University. For more information about farm safety, please contact:

    Tom Karsky, Extension Farm Safety Specialist, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-0904, phone 208/885-7627, fax 208/885-7908, email (
    Myron Shenk, Integrated Plant Protection Center, Oregon State University, 2040 Cordley Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331-2915, phone 541/737-6274, fax 541/737-3080, email (
    Bill Symons, Extension Safety Specialist, Biological Systems Engineering Department, Washington State University, 204 L. J. Smith Hall, Pullman, WA 99164-6120, phone 509/335-2902, fax 509/335-2722, email (

This series is supported, in part, by funds provided by the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (PNASH), Department of Environmental Health, Box 357234, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-7234 (phone: 800/330-0827, email: PNASH is funded by CDC/NIOSH Award #U07/CCU012926-02.

Published and distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the University of Idaho Cooperative Extension System, the Oregon State University Extension Service, Washington State University Cooperative Extension, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. The three participating Extension services provide equal opportunity in education and employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, or status as a Vietnam-era veteran as required by state and federal laws. The University of Idaho Cooperative Extension System, Oregon State University Extension Service, and Washington State University Cooperative Extension are Equal Opportunity Employers.

Published December 1998 Hand Signals Farm Safety Series PNW 512

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