Keep Your Farm Safe This Fall
If you run an agritourism business, fall might be your busiest season. The leaves are turning, the harvest is coming in and visitors are drawn to hayrides, corn mazes and pumpkin patches before the colder weather keeps them indoors. During peak times, it’s important to keep the safety of staff, visitors and your property front and center. To help, here’s a few tips and tricks to prevent a claim during your fall farm activities.
Hayrides, if done properly, can be a hit with the entire family. However, they can also be extremely dangerous if you’re not careful. Here are a few recommendations to decrease the risk of damage or injury on your farm.
- Do a thorough inspection. At the beginning of each day, inspect tractors and hay wagons for safe and efficient operation. Make sure the hitch and safety chains are in use and there are no loose boards and railings or sharp edges and exposed screws and nails on the wagon.
- Make sure you use the right equipment. The tractor pulling the hayride must weigh more than the gross weight of the heaviest wagon it will tow. This will ensure it has adequate traction and braking capability. Make sure you have sturdy steps with handrails for easy loading and unloading of passengers into your wagon and ensure rear view mirrors are installed to provide the operator a view of the passenger area.
- Drive Safely: Have a responsible adult with a valid driver’s license operate the tractor. If there are children present, have proper child-to-adult ratios on the hayride. Drive slowly and do not tow more than one wagon.
- Choose you route carefully. Make sure it does not have steep grades or other hazards that can affect the stability of the tractor or hay wagon. Ensure the route is clear of tree branches or other low hanging objects that could strike passengers and do not travel on or across public roads and highways. If you’re offering sleigh rides in the winter, do not travel on or cross snowmobile trails.
- Set rules for your riders. Before the ride begins, clearly state safety rules to passengers and children once they are seated and ready to begin the hayride. Do not allow standing on or crawling around the wagon, and make it clear that jumping on and off the moving wagon is forbidden. There should also be no hanging feet over the edge of the wagon, or extra riders on the tractor. The operator of the hayride should be prepared to stop at the request of passengers.
Animals on the farm are unpredictable and can be more dangerous than machinery. Injuries commonly caused by animals include: being stepped on, pushed over, pinned between the animal and a hard surface, kicked and bitten.
If guests are interacting with animals, be sure to follow the following safety tips:
- Ensure the fencing or barrier between the animals and children is adequate and that children cannot climb over or under it.
- Avoid bringing horses, or other larger livestock out of their stalls for viewing. If the animal becomes startled while in the open it could trample those in the area.
- Always keep children a safe distance from horses.
- Always harness and hitch the horses before loading passengers on the hay wagon.
- Horses should wear blinders to prevent distraction from passengers.
- Ensure horses are healthy and capable of carrying passengers along the entire route safely.
For more information and resources on hayrides and animal safety, check out the full Loss Prevention Tip
Equipment safety is important on any farm at any time of the year but is especially important if your farm is visited by people unfamiliar with farm safety. It’s important to be aware of the hazards and prepared to prevent accidents.
Be aware of the types of hazards on farm equipment and where they are on your property.
The point where two parts of a piece of equipment move together, with at least one of the turning in a circle. For example, a chain drive or feeder roll. If clothing becomes caught it can be drawn in, resulting in the following hazard – pull-in.
Machines like feed rolls that rotate quickly resulting in pinch points can pull an operator in before they can react. Do not unclog these by hand and keep all loose clothing clear
These exist wherever there is an exposed, rotating shaft. The PTO driveline hazard is one of the oldest and most common farm machinery hazards. At normal operating speeds, clothing is snagged and pulled around the shaft much quicker than a person can pull back or take evasive action.
Some farm machines can propel objects great distances with tremendous force. Rotary mowers and flail choppers can hurl small stones and other debris. Combine straw choppers and hammer mills can fling kernels and other crop material with considerable force. Keep yourself, your employees and guests at a safe distance.
These are created when two objects move toward each other, or when one object moves toward a stationary item. A crush point exists between an implement tongue and tractor drawbar. Other examples include jacked‐up equipment, raised hydraulic components and overhead doors.
These exist where the edges of two components move across each other like scissors. Shearing and cutting devices are widely used on harvesting equipment. The active parts may rotate (rotary mower) or reciprocate (sickle bar). Cutting and shear points also exist on several devices that are not designed to cut material, such as auger flighting entering a tube.
Parts on farm equipment may continue to rotate for two minutes or more after power is disengaged. Injury occurs when an impatient operator reaches in to unclog or service the equipment before the free‐moving part stops.
To prevent accidents, it is important to have a knowledge of all the hazards and keep all guards and shields in place and well-maintained. When in doubt, follow all the warnings on various decals affixed on equipment. Finally, always disengage the power, shut off the engine, pocket the key and wait for all parts to stop moving before doing any type of work near the machine, or allowing guests near.
For a look at all the hazard decals and more information on equipment safety, check out the full Loss Prevention Tip.
This Season, Put Safety First
Putting safety first can save you unhappy or injured customers, employees, and a potential claim situation. Make sure your space is prepared, double check your equipment and be ready if and accident happens.