Cooler temperatures, leaves turning colors and the return of pumpkin spice everything can only indicate one thing--harvest time in Indiana. Harvest season is an exciting time on the farm. It is the culmination of a year’s worth of work and planning finally coming together for a successful harvest. Farmers, employees and families look forward to seeing the fruits of their labor after a year of hard work.
Typically, harvest begins in September and finishes in October or November, but Mother Nature can push the end of harvest into December or even January. As the combines roll across Indiana fields, they will be harvesting Indiana’s largest two crops—corn and soybeans.
Harvest season can be a hectic and stressful time of year on the farm and can lead to more accidents and injuries. Here are some steps to make harvest season productive and safe for you, your family and employees.
1. Equipment safety
One of the first steps to staying safe during harvest is ensuring that your equipment is safe. Always read and follow maintenance recommendations included in equipment owner’s manuals. All guards and shields should be in place before beginning operation. Have a fully charged 10 pounds ABC fire extinguisher on all equipment. Properly grease and lubricate machinery daily. Frequently blow off any chaff, leaves or other debris from combines, especially from motors and exhausts. Use tractors equipped with rollover protective structures (ROPS), which are metal bars or frames that are designed to protect equipment operators in the event of a rollover. Always wear a seatbelt when operating equipment that has them installed.
2. Road safety
One of the most dangerous activities during harvest season is transporting equipment on the road. All equipment must have an SMV (slow moving vehicle) triangle properly attached and visible. All lights, flashers and warning indicators must work properly. When possible, use an escort vehicle to follow equipment moving to the field to provide a buffer from other vehicles approaching it too closely. Try to avoid morning and afternoon commute times to move equipment.
3. Grain safety
The movement of grain for storage can be an additional hazard during harvest. Never enter a grain bin, wagon or grain trailer alone. Always have an observer located outside that has a clear view. Always turn off and secure mechanical or electrical controls to grain handling equipment before entering grain bins or to do service or repairs. Ensure all guards and shields are in place on grain handling equipment. Be careful of overhead powerlines when moving augers, grain carts and combines.
4. Child safety
Harvest season is a very exciting time for everyone, especially children. The operation of tractors, semis and combines captures the attention of kids who love the farm. But, special care and rules are needed to keep children safe during this busy time. Absolutely no horseplay allowed during farming and harvest operations. Designate a safe play area for children while on the farm. No additional riders on equipment unless equipment has specifically designed seating. Assign age-appropriate farm tasks to children to keep them busy on the farm.
5. Self-care safety
Another important area of safety is keeping yourself safe. Always wear the proper protective equipment when working on the farm which includes gloves, safety glasses, hearing protection, masks/respirators and non-slip footwear. Avoid wearing baggy or loose clothing around machinery. Take numerous breaks during the day to stay alert. Get proper sleep during harvest season because fatigue can often lead to shortcuts and errors that can lead to accidents or injuries. Avoid consuming any kind of drugs or alcohol when operating equipment. Eat nutritious meals, snacks and stay hydrated to help you stay alert and productive.
Farming has a long history in Indiana and these steps can help make it another safe and successful harvest. Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance has more than an 85-year tradition of protecting Indiana farmers and will continue to in the future.
Visit an Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance agent to review your farm and crop insurance coverages to help you ensure that your farm, home, equipment, crops and livestock are all properly protected. Or, get a free quote today for farm and crop insurance. Your Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance agent can customize coverage to meet your farm’s risk management goals and needs.
*The information in this article was compiled from a variety of sources and is intended to provide helpful tips only.