Stay safe during harvest

Stay safe during harvest

By: Naomi Blohm 09/15/2010 @ 1:10pm

The warm summer evenings have carried the slight essence of fall, the wooly caterpillars are making their debut, children are filing back into the classrooms, and harvest is getting underway.  I love the excitement and anticipation that harvest brings ... producers finally reaping the rewards of their hard work. 

In the excitement and hurried pace that often ensues comes a gentle tone of caution and voice of concern, and we pause and remind ourselves of some of important safety precautions that need to be implemented this time of year. So important, in fact, that I will focus this month's column solely on safety.

Why the pause from my usual marketing topics? Because, quite frankly, if someone close to you is hurt or killed in a farm accident, all of the money in the farm marketing world won't make up for your loss.

It seems that every year I talk with producers who have encountered, tragically, a neighbor, family member or valued community member who has fallen victim to a harvest accident. The following tips are not new, yet I encourage you to print out the tips below and tape them to your fridge, office desk, or machinery shed wall to remind those around you to be mindful of safety during this time of year.

Harvest safety tips:

  • Turn off equipment when working around it. Turn the tractor off every time you get off.
  • Complete a thorough safety check on all equipment before you use it.
  • Make sure all shields and guards are in place on your equipment. Replace those that are worn or missing.
  • Make sure your Slow Moving Vehicle emblem is visible and properly placed.
  • Make sure someone knows what field you're in, and that you have set a time you'll return home.
  • Don't wear loose fitting clothes. They can become entangled in moving equipment such as a PTO shaft.
  • Never allow extra riders. One seat on a tractor means one person should be on that tractor.
  • Have rollover protective structures (ROPS) installed on all tractors.
  • Wear your seatbelt (only on ROPS equipped tractors).
  • Adverse weather adds to harvesting pressure. Do not rely on stimulants to keep you going or depressants to calm your nerves. Keen awareness is important to safety.
  • Periodic breaks relieve the monotony of machinery operation. If you are going to eat in the field, at least climb down from the machine and relax for 15 to 20 minutes. 
  • Teach workers proper techniques and safety precautions. Enforce safety rules.
  • Every piece of powered equipment should carry a fire extinguisher. 
  • Do not allow children around machinery.
  • In and around farms and fields there are a number of overhead power lines. When moving tall equipment around the farm, beware of overhead power line dangers.

Being prepared and mindful of safety tips is essential. Remember, your first response is your rehearsed response. Proactively tell others around you about the need and implementation of safety strategies on your farm, and have your emergency response scenario ready in case of the unthinkable.

We'll talk markets again next time, after a safe harvest season. Best wishes!


Naomi Blohm is a marketing advisor for Stewart-Peterson and a regular contributor to Women in Ag at

If you have marketing questions, you can reach Naomi at, or post a marketing question on the Women in Ag Discussion page.