Harvest Safety

20 Jul , 2021

Harvest is hectic. Racing daylight and rain clouds can be seriously stressful. Time means money when yields are at risk. As a result, harvest is the peak season for agriculture-related injuries and fatalities.

When you are in a rush, it is tempting to bypass simple safety procedures that might slow you down. But taking the extra time can be a lifesaver. So, ease up. Take responsibility for your own safety. Get trained for each new task before you get started. Be alert for hazards and figure out how to manage them – remove any unnecessary risks ahead of time and learn to manage the risks that cannot be removed.

Combines and balers can be extremely dangerous. Knowledge is your best defence. Prepare for the harvest season by getting trained for each task you will perform.

Get the equipment ready. Most severe farm tragedies involve machinery. Make sure yours is in good working condition. Be sure pre-season maintenance and repairs are handled several weeks before harvest. Also make sure you are in good condition. You take pride in your ability to work long and hard. You are happy to burn the midnight oil in pursuit of a goal – in this case, a successful harvest.

Harvesting equipment is designed to cut, pull, and separate things, and it does so very effectively. Unfortunately, it will not discriminate between you and the crop. Get caught in its clutches and you could be tangled, wrapped, pulled, run over, cut up or worse. Learn about the dangers ahead of time so you can avoid them while you are in the field. When you are working, slow down and think about the potential hazards of each new task before you begin

The reality is that fatigue, drowsiness, and illness contribute to field mishaps. To ensure you’ll be around to see the last of the grain go into the bin, get plenty of sleep. Take regular breaks. Wear comfortable, closefitting clothing and sturdy, protective shoes. When you do field work, always let someone know where you are and check in regularly.

Few realize that many more injuries are related to slips and falls around farm machines. During an average workday, you might have to mount and dismount from the combine dozens of times. The top of an average combine is 12 to 14 feet high. The operator’s platform is usually 6 to 8 feet high. Falls from these heights can cause serious injuries. If you are fatigued or careless, the likelihood of a fall dramatically increases. Then there is the slip factor. Ladders and platforms are often painted metal. They are slippery in normal conditions – treacherous when wet, muddy, icy or coated in crop residue.

To prevent painful falls:

  • Keep platforms free of tools or other objects.
  • Clean ladders, steps, and platforms regularly.
  • Wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes with non-slip soles.
  • Use the grab bars when mounting or dismounting.
  • Find a stable position from which to refuel or perform maintenance.
  • Use three points of contact when getting in or out of machinery – one hand/two feet or two hands/ one foot.
  • Do not underestimate the impact of fatigue, stress, drugs, alcohol, or age on your stability.


Keep children safely away from farm machinery, including grain transportation equipment. Tragedies occur far too easily when children end up in the path of equipment from which the operator’s view is restricted.

Harvest is a productive time. The pressure may be exhilarating, but it also creates serious stress. This can only mean one thing: an increased risk of injury. To prevent injury and reap the benefits of the harvest you are working so hard at, take responsibility for your own safety. Injuries happen when you take shortcuts in performing routine tasks, work while mentally or physically fatigued, or fail to follow safety guidelines.



References Harvest Safety, Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, Earlham, IA, http://www.fs4jk.org Harvest Safety, Farm Bureau Safety Program, GA, http://www.gfb.org/safety/harvest.htm Harvest Safety Yields Big Dividends, Mark Hanna, Charles V. Schwab, Laura Miller, Iowa State University Extension, National Ag Safety Database, http://origin.cdc.gov/nasd/index.html Farm Safety Association, Ontario.

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