Safe Corn Harvesting Tips (Sample News Release)

Many farmers suffer the loss of fingers, hands, arms, or feet in corn harvesting accidents each year. Some even lose their lives. Nearly all these tragedies are preventable, especially if farm workers would take the time to understand the hazards these machines present and take the appropriate safety precautions. Most serious corn harvesting accidents involve either corn pickers or harvesters. These two machines perform similar tasks and can cause such hazards as burns, severe cuts, entrapment, and amputations.

Corn pickers have gathering mechanisms which can become easily clogged. For this reason, they are usually involved in serious corn harvesting accidents. Corn picking accidents occur when the snapping rolls become plugged and the operator attempts to remove corn stalks or other debris while the machine is running. As the operator tugs at the plugged stalks, the snapping rolls can suddenly free up and begin to roll. Before the operator can release his grip, his hand and arm are well entangled in the machine. To add to the problem, once someone is entangled in a corn picker, it is often difficult and time consuming to get him out.

The good news is that it is easy to avoid accidents like this. Just remember to turn off the power to your corn picker, allowing it to completely stop, before trying to unclog it.

The gathering mechanisms on corn combines do not clog as easily as those on corn pickers, but the risks are the same if someone tries to unplug the rolls without turning the machine off first. Most combine accidents occur when clothing, shoe laces, fingers, hands, or legs get caught in the many exposed belts and gears. The rule to remember here is to always shut your combine off whenever you leave the operator's platform to make adjustments. It is also a good idea to wear comfortable, but close-fitting clothing. Make sure you avoid wearing flappy overalls and loose sleeves and cuffs.

Because of their size, it is very dangerous to use corn harvesting equipment near ditches or streams. The banks often give way under the weight of the machines and cause it to fall over. As a rule to prevent these accidents, you should keep the center of gravity of your machine as far away from the edge of a channel as the channel is deep.

Safe and efficient autumn corn harvesting depends a lot on how well prepared you are. Be aware of all the hazards surrounding this farm task. The key factor to remember is: Before servicing any farm equipment, TURN IT OFF!

Carol Keene, Northeast Center Coordinator, NYCAMH.

This public service announcement was produced by the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH), One Atwell Road, Cooperstown, New York 13326 - Ph# (607) 547-6023 or (800) 343-7527 in the northeast. Publication date: 1994.

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