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Safety Tips for Your Farm

By Erika Owen and Jodi Henke

Keeping your family safe is the first priority on your farm.
Here are some tips to help you meet that goal.

Safety Checklist

First, make sure you have enough fire extinguishers and
first aid supplies on hand, and check to make sure they haven’t expired, says
Tom Karsky, Extension safety specialist at the University of Idaho.

“Things in the shop, such as tools and cords, should be in
good shape,” he says. He also recommends replacing all the guards on machinery
if damaged.

Pesticides and chemicals should be stored in a dry place and
out of reach of children.

Make sure your family knows where the power switches are for
all types of equipment. 

Break your checklist into manageable tasks. “Prioritize
things and work on the ones that need the most attention,” Karsky says. “If
there’s a slow period when everyone happens to be around, you can do a short
little walk-around.” You can also cover one part of the operation – such as the
shop – first and then another part next month.

Respiratory Hazards

Mold spores, gases, and other organic dusts are harmful to
breathe in and are abundant on working farms.

Carolyn Sheridan, clinical director for AgriSafe, says these
particles can settle deep inside the lungs and cause long-term chronic lung
disease “or an acute episode where someone may have fever, chills, nausea, and
shortness of breath. People feel like they have the flu,” Sheridan says.

The first step in defending yourself is to wear a
NIOSH-approved mask, says Sheridan. “That means the research has been done to
show that this mask will protect you from the hazard. For most exposures, look
for an N-95 printed somewhere on the box or on the mask. That tells you it’s
95% efficient.”

Discourage mold growth by harvesting and storing grain at
the recommended moisture content. Follow the labels on all chemicals and avoid
working in tight spaces with limited air circulation.Winter tractor safety

A tractor that’s being used for snow removal must have a
rollover protective structure (ROPS), says Mark Hanna, Extension ag engineer at
Iowa State University.

“It’s relatively common that the tractor’s not going to be
on a level roadway but on a side slope,” says Hanna. “Maybe you’re pushing snow
around and don’t know where the edge of the embankment is.”

Surfaces can be slick, which adds to the instability. Hanna
says even though you’ll be driving the tractor slower than usual, it can still
skid off the road if it hits a patch of ice.

Always take extra precautions when working with your
tractor’s snow-removal equipment. Don’t rush. That can make the task even more

“If you’ve got a front-end loader and you’re doing any
maintenance around it, certainly make sure that you’ve got it mechanically
blocked up,” says Hanna. “Don’t rely on the hydraulics if you get underneath

When using a snowblower attachment, “make sure you stop the
power to the blower, disengage the power to the blower, and stop the engine
before attempting to clean anything out of the discharge area,” says Hanna.

Visibility is another issue, especially if you’ll be out
while it’s still snowing. Be sure all the lights on the tractor are working so
other vehicles in the area can see you. 

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