Numerous accidents occur due to corn harvesting accidents each year. Nearly all of these could be prevented simply with the use of safety precautions.
One factor affecting safety during corn harvest is the weather. Corn can become wet or icy during the rain and cold of late fall, making it more likely to clog both corn pickers and combines. It's also likely to fall over, creating hazardous field conditions. If you must harvest under these conditions, make sure you slow your ground speed and take in less corn than you normally would.
Likewise, hot and dry conditions also pose a threat. Dry corn can catch fire easily and burn rapidly. This will not only endanger you and your equipment, but your crops as well. To avoid this possibility, watch for overheated bearing or belts, remove chaff and stalks from near the manifold, and keep your harvesting machinery equipped with a fire extinguisher at all times.
As with all farm vehicles, carrying extra riders on corn harvesting equipment is especially hazardous. Unnecessary riders can fall under the machinery, get caught in gears or belts, and can also distract the driver. Be especially careful to watch for children in the fields. The best way to avoid second party accidents is to keep anyone not involved in the harvest far away from the corn and the harvesting equipment.
Fatigue is another enemy of corn harvesting safety. Harvesting corn is a very demanding task, and requires constant alertness on the part of the person operating the machines. Equipment in poor operating condition, combined with long hours, can make it difficult for farmers to maintain a high level of awareness. This problem could be avoided through careful planning before harvest time. Inspecting and repairing equipment before harvest time and restructuring your work to allow for rest periods will help you avoid fatigue-related accidents.
An efficient and safe autumn corn harvest depends a great deal on how well you prepare yourself for accidents. Remember to be aware of the hazards presented by embankments, second parties, weather, and fatigue. But most of all, remember that most corn harvesting accidents occur due to failure of the operator to stop his equipment before servicing or unclogging it. The key to safety here is remembering this simple rule: If you must stop your machinery to fix it, TURN IT OFF FIRST!!!
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