According to Iowa State University’s Environmental Health and Safety website, tractors are the main cause of accidental deaths on farms. IowaWatch.org states that farm deaths in Iowa averaged 25 per year between 2001 and 2011. In this post, we’ll explain the six most common farm machinery hazards and how to minimize your risk. Many times, injuries and death result from human error – taking shortcuts, ignoring warnings, or not paying attention. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and those you work with is to be diligent in following all maintenance and operating guidelines provided by the equipment manufacturer.
In addition, be aware of the following dangers and the precautions you can take to prevent a tragedy from striking your farm or family:
Shear Points and Cutting Points
Shear points occur when the edges of two objects move close together and can cut soft material (example: auger).
Cutting points occur when an object moves forcefully and is able to cut (example: sickle blade).
To avoid injuries, remain alert while operating machines with shear and cutting points. Also, advise others to watch out because some cutting machinery can throw objects while in use.
Pinch points are created when two rotating objects move closely together, one moving in a circle.
Hands and feet can get caught in pinch points, or other body parts can get pulled into pinch points when loose clothing becomes entangled in the machine.
To avoid injuries, wear tight-fitting clothing and never reach over or work near rotating parts. Also, identify places where pinch points can occur and avoid these areas.
When exposed machine parts rotate, they create wrap points. Loose clothing can get caught in the moving parts, and consequently pull workers into the machine.
To avoid injuries, shield potential wrap points before beginning your work. If wrap points cannot be shielded, paint them a bright color to remind yourself and others that they are there.
Crush points occur when objects move toward one another, or one object moves toward a stationary object. Workers can be crushed in between.
Block equipment securely to avoid fatal crushing injuries.
Some equipment with moving parts continues to spin after being shut off.
To avoid injuries, wait until the machinery has completely stopped before touching it. This can take several minutes.
When servicing, adjusting or replacing parts on machines with hydraulic systems, workers can face high-pressure blasts of hydraulic oil. This can cause injury and/or burns to the skin.
To avoid injuries, do not inspect hydraulic hoses with your hands because the hydraulic fluids can puncture the skin.
According to OSHA, farm injury rates are highest for children under 15 and adults over age 65. Be sure to educate kids on farm safety hazards, and limit their exposure to dangerous machinery. Farm Safety Just for Kids offers some great resources and programs here: http://www.farmsafetyforjustkids.org/educational-resources/.