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Fall is a time for harvest safety reminders

Fall is a time for harvest safety reminders
Fall harvest time is an exciting and busy time of year, but it can also be one of the most dangerous times in a rural area.
Carle’s Rural Health & Farm Safety Program Coordinator Amy Rademaker offers a few friendly reminders to raise awareness for a safe season on and off the farm.
Greatest risks at this time of year
Roadways: Drivers are asked to be patient when traveling around slow-moving farm vehicles like a combine or auger cart and not take risks when passing those vehicles. If you do not need to travel on a rural roadway, best to avoid it during harvest season. Farm operators should check that equipment taken down a roadway maintains sufficient lighting, reflectors and clean slow-moving vehicle signs. Operators may use an escort vehicle when possible and try to avoid traveling during busy morning and evening commute times.
With harvest later this year and nightfall arriving earlier, owners and operators should clear the corners of their fields at intersecting roadways for the safety of their neighbors and their own families traversing through those intersecting roadways.
Tractors: Operators should make sure they have necessary lighting when traveling on roadways in early morning or evening hours.  Check if your ROPS (Rollover Protective Structures) are in place and always wear your seat belt should the tractor roll over on steep inclines. Make sure all other guarding is in place and everything is in good working order.  Operators should turn off the tractor before you get off to check any equipment. Try to avoid getting off and on the tractor multiple times.  Maintain three points of contact when getting on or off the tractor and avoid jumping off of the tractor or tractor steps for your own safety and to protect body joints.
Grain bins: Grain entrapments account for nearly half of documented incidents and many are fatal when a person inside the bin becomes asphyxiated by the grain flowing around them. In less than 20 seconds, grain can be up over the head of someone sinking into it. Operators should not enter a grain bin when the grain is flowing. When inside the bin, use a body harness with an anchored lifeline and ensure there is an outside observer who can get to help quickly. Turn off and create a barrier or a disconnect-lock out, tag out system so no one can turn on a machine around the grain bin when someone is inside. Ensure all employees around the grain bin use the same rules to never enter with flowing grin and use the barrier system.
Mental Health
The tension of getting crops out of the fields before bad weather sets in as well as financial concerns are major stressors for farm families. Mounting economic pressure, the isolation of living in a rural environment and lack of control over the weather needed to grow crops may individually or collectively prompt mental health stress. In rural communities, suicide rates are higher than in large urban areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and farming has one of the highest occupational suicide rates. Take time to say hello or wave to agriculture operators who are doing their jobs during harvest season. If you know a farmer personally, be empathetic, listen and offer assurances to help ease their mind. If you see warning signs of mental health problems such as depression, substance abuse, extreme mood swings or talk of feeling helpless, help remove the stigma of mental health by mentioning resources such as clergy or their primary care provider.

Categories: Staying Healthy, Community

Tags: Community Health Initiatives, , Rural Health and Farm Safety