Working Safely in the Farm/Ranch Shop: Script

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The following safety module is intended to be used as a refresher safety awareness session and is in no way to be used as a substitute for job training or proper equipment use.

Maintenance shops are a critical part of any agricultural operation. The professionalism of everyone working in a shop is of great importance, as well as the quality of the work to be performed. The shop is a busy place...there's always something to do. Part of the job is safety, safety for the people working in the shop area, as well as for visitors to the shop and the people who operate the equipment.

The safety modules may be used by anyone with the understanding that credit be given to AgSafe.


Only you can prevent injuries. If you think about safety on every job you perform, it's difficult to create a situation that will cause an injury. (See Figure 1.) Avoid taking short-cuts and violating safety rules and practices. Pay attention to the job you are doing.


Hand tools, such as socket wrenches, can become worn after they've been used for a long period of time. When you notice a socket with worn edges, it's time to replace it. (See Figure 2.) Screwdrivers, crescent wrenches, pliers, hammers: all of these and other tools need to be maintained in a serviceable condition. Equipment, such as hydraulic jacks, air wrenches, and grinders also must be properly serviced. Electrical equipment is of particular importance in the shop because there is the risk of electrical shock if the equipment is in poor condition. Also, inspect the air compressor on a regular basis to be sure its belts, pulleys and guards are in good condition.


If you find a piece of equipment that needs repair, notify your supervisor and follow your employer's lockout/tag-out procedures. (See Figure 3.) Lockout/tag-out simply means that all hazardous energy sources to the tool or machine, such as gas, electricity or hydraulic systems, must be locked in the off position before any maintenance is performed. The lock and key used for a lockout procedure should never be used for any other purpose.

Use the lockout procedure whenever possible; only use the tag-out method when a lockout method is unavailable. A tag-out procedure means using special tags that warn others of the danger of starting up the equipment. A tag should have a printed warning of what could happen if the power is turned on, and it must be tough enough to prevent it from being removed accidentally. Remember, tags do not prevent the equipment from being started up; they are only warnings. So, if you use a tag system it is recommended that you exercise extra caution.


This is one rule that is often violated in farm/ranch shops. Many people will wear safety goggles, but they forget to also wear the face shield. The primary reason for the face shield is for your protection in the event something, such as a grinding wheel, should explode. (See Figure 4.) Prescription glasses from the optometrist are not safety glasses, unless you specify prescription safety glasses. Contact lenses in an agricultural environment are not recommended.


If you work in an area where major foot hazards are present, steel-toed safety shoes should be worn. (See Figure 5.) In the event that something falls on your foot, protection is provided by these safety shoes. Where the hazard is a minimum, it is recommended that you wear leather-topped shoes. Avoid tennis or canvas shoes. Leather-topped shoes afford some protection from oil, grease, solvents and other chemicals, and they also protect your feet from minor cuts and abrasions.


Maintenance professionals work with grease, oil and solvents on a regular basis. That's the nature of your job. But, to prevent damage to your skin, wash your hands frequently. (See Figure 6.) If you're using a solvent or similar liquid, use rubber gloves to protect your hands and skin. If you protect yourself, you'll be more productive and certainly much safer.


Gasoline and other flammable liquids should be handled with extreme care. Always follow your employer's (and the manufacturer's) directions for using, handling, storing and disposing of these materials. All hazardous materials must be properly labeled and kept in proper containers. Never mix any liquids without proper authorization. When you combine different chemicals, the result could be dangerous. To reduce the risk of spontaneous combustion and fire, store greasy rags in a metal container with a lid. When you transfer gasoline or other flammable liquid from a large container to a smaller container, you must bond and ground the two containers to prevent static electricity from creating a spark that could ignite the liquid. Ask your supervisor for assistance if you have questions about this procedure. It's a good idea to regularly wipe up spills because flammable liquids are more dangerous when they mix with air. (See Figure 7.)


A dust mask is only good for keeping dust out of your mouth. When you are spray painting or using other chemicals, dust masks don't do any good. It is highly advisable that you select the proper respiratory protection for the potential hazard. (See Figure 8.)

If you work on vehicle brakes, for example, find out about the hazards of asbestos fibers and what precautions and protective equipment are recommended to be used to prevent breathing asbestos fibers.


Keep your work area clean. (See Figure 9.) If you spill something, wipe it up. Grease, oil, solvent, spare parts, wires, tools on the floor: all of these can add up to accidents. Good housekeeping is one of the most important parts of your everyday responsibilities. It makes good sense, it makes a more productive work area, and it's much safer.


We want to make sure you receive proper medical attention for on-the-job injuries, so always report any type of injury or illness when it occurs. (See Figure 10.) It is also recommended that you report to your supervisor any potential hazard you notice so it can be corrected. Small cuts or minor injuries can become major medical problems if first aid treatment isn't provided when needed. If you have a questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Publication #: CA 94720

This publication is compiled from various reference sources and is designed to provide current and authoritative information on the subject matter covered. It is provided with the understanding that the publishers are not engaged in rendering medical, legal, accounting or other professional service. AgSafe, the Safety Center, Inc., and FELS believe the information provided to be correct, but assume no liability for consequential or other damages attendant to the use of this material. In no event shall the liability of AgSafe, the Safety Center, Inc., or FELS for any claim, however designated, exceed the purchase price, if any, for this publication. No claim may be maintained against AgSafe, the Safety Center, Inc., or FELS in any tribunal unless written notice of the claim is delivered to the applicable entity within 30 days of its discovery. Information about the Agsafe Project can be obtained by writing to Agsafe, 140 Warren Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720

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