Gov. Pat McCrory has proclaimed June to be Safety and Hazard Recognition Month, but farmers know that EVERY month is safety month. The department’s occupational safety and health staff focuses on keeping NCDA&CS employees safe on the job. Many of those employees work on our 18 research stations, which are, in fact, farms. Our occupational safety and health section provided these tips for staying safe on the farm:
Farm buildings and grounds
- Perform a safety check of buildings and grounds for obvious fire hazards and hazardous materials.
- Store farm chemicals securely where kids and animals can’t access them. Then make a list of the chemicals for firefighters in the event of a fire on your property.
- Keep weeds and grasses trimmed so tractor and ATV drivers won’t run into hidden obstacles and holes that can cause the vehicle to overturn.
- Maintain clean and neat work areas with tools stored out of the way.
- Establish a safety boundary around gas and diesel fuel tanks and other flammable substances.
Personal farm safety
- Don’t wear loose clothing around equipment or work areas.
- Use safety equipment the way it was intended. That means appropriate gloves, hearing protection and safety eyeglasses, not to mention face masks and respirators when working in dusty conditions.
- Always have a helper nearby when entering grain bins, breeding pens or other high-risk areas.
- Discuss safety concerns with children as you explain safe handling and operating procedures. Practice what you preach, and they will practice it, too.
- Do not wear loose clothing while entering confined spaces such as grain bins, silos and hoppers to prevent entanglements.
Tractors and implements
- Keep tractor roll-over protection structures in place. If you have a tractor without one, get it installed today … and while you’re at it, buckle your seat belt.
- Prohibit riders on tractor fenders, hitches, attachments or implements.
- Shield all PTO-powered equipment drive shafts, and keep kids at a distance from them.
- Never start or run gas or diesel engines in an enclosed area without being assured of good ventilation.
- Outfit tractors and farm trucks with fire extinguishers and first aid kits.
- Never exit a tractor or truck without placing it in park or engaging the emergency brakes.
- Never leave running power equipment unattended.
- Check and maintain equipment, especially hydraulic hoses and electrical cables showing cracks or other signs of wear.
- While operating tractors and other farm equipment, be very cautious on rural roadways. Look for oncoming cars while making wide turns. Watch for potholes, ditches and steep hills. Be sure to keep equipment at least 20 feet from any overhead power lines or wires that support poles.
- Keep animals in good health. An animal in pain and discomfort can react aggressively.
- Treat farm animals with respect. If you understand their behavior, you’ll be ready for their actions.
Additional information about farm safety is available from the N.C. Department of Labor, which regulates workplace safety in the state.