The greatest delight of family farming is being able to have your family with you as you farm. Days spent together, working for a common goal. Nights coming in from a long day, and relishing a job well done. Together. It takes a team to move the herd, put up the hay, harvest the crops, or raise the barn. The school-age children, eager to get off the bus, change into chore clothes and hop on whatever tractor that is running at the time. But, in order to do that safely, certain practices must be observed.
To be safe around equipment: Children and anyone approaching a moving vehicle should make eye contact with the driver who can then indicate if it’s okay to climb aboard or to wait until the driver is ready for passengers. Visibility from a tractor seat does not always allow the farmer a good view of what is on the ground. A piece of equipment that can weigh tens of thousands of pounds does not stop on a dime. Stay back and wait for the machine to come to a complete stop before climbing on. Never mount a stair step while the equipment is moving.
There should be no riders on the fender of the tractor. An open station tractor (versus one with an enclosed cab) should not be treated like a ride at an amusement park. Riding on one can have dire consequences if safety procedures aren’t followed. As a rule, there should be only one rider per seat.
To be safe around livestock: Many farms have various types of livestock and even the most docile animals can be provoked or dangerous in the wrong situations. A mother cow with a new calf can be overly protective and not comfortable with people being near the newborn. When walking in a field with animals, take precautions and be aware of your surroundings.
To be safe around grain: Grain bins and wagons are never a good place for children to play. When grain is being moved by auger from one place to another (i.e. bin to truck) the grain can trap and suffocate a person in just a few minutes. Even grain in a bin that isn’t being moved isn’t stable underfoot.
The grain can act like quicksand. If you were to stand on it, the corn could shift and a person could sink into it. The danger is if a person would sink in up to their chest or over their head the weight and pressure of the grain would prevent them from being able to expand their chest and breathe appropriately. There is a danger the person would then suffocate. A farmer should always let someone know when they are checking a grain bin, how long they will be gone, and when they are safely clear of the grain bin. No one should ever enter a bin or wagon that is being unloaded.
To be safe around chemicals: Chemicals and dangerous liquids on the farm should be safely stored and not in a highly trafficked area where they could get knocked over and spilled. When handling chemicals on the farm, it is important to where personal protective equipment like gloves, goggles, and long sleeves and pants. Different chemicals have different recommended personal protective equipment so be sure to read the label.
To be safe around debris: Sharp metal scraps and nails in boards are commonplace around a farm. Work areas should be cleaned up regularly to minimize these sharp items. But it is also good to take the precaution to wear proper footwear with sturdy, thick soles.
Most family farms are passed on from generation to generation, each passing on lessons learned from their experience. We want to help ensure that those experiences are positive so it is never a bad idea to take a refresher course on farm safety. Even one accident is one too many. Be safe!