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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

November 8, 2023 - 9:00am --

As harvest continues to drive on around the county, it is a good time to remind ourselves about how we can stay safe in the midst of a very busy time of year on the farm. This reminder is also for the motorists on the roadways who are not involved with farming. In the middle of being stressed, tired, unfocused and rushed, accidents can still happen, but taking an opportunity to review some safety precautions is an opportunity to avoid accidents, injury and loss of life.

Accidents during roadway travel are one of the leading causes of injury and death for farmers and farm workers. Both equipment operators and auto drivers need to be aware of each other. If a automobile is traveling 65 MPH, and a combine is a half a mile ahead moving at 15 MPH, it would take just over 30 seconds for the automobile to reach the combine. If the distance is a quarter mile, the reaction time for the automobile driver needs to be less than 20 seconds.

Farm equipment operators, remember to make sure that all of your lights are working properly, make sure they accurately mark the width of your equipment in the roadway, ensure SMV signs and reflective tape are in place to improve visibility, try to do most of your travel in day light and communicate your movements and turns with hand signals or turn signals.

Motorists, be patient. Farm equipment has a legal right to use the public roads. Harvest is a short period of time compared to the rest of the year. If you are behind equipment, enjoy the scenery of our beautiful county, appreciate what the farmers are doing, and extend grace to our agricultural community as they work hard to get their crops harvested. Do not be distracted by your phone. Remember, your closing speed on farm equipment will result in you needing to be attentive and have quick reaction times. Leave as much room as possible for equipment as it passes. Yes, you may need to pull over onto the shoulder if it is fit to do so. Keep in mind too that farm equipment needs extra room to turn, frequently taking up both lanes. Do not try passing in areas where you cannot see around the equipment, or where clear sight is blocked by hills, turns and vegetation. Also keep an eye out for turn signals or hand signals as equipment prepares to turn. Following farm equipment is really not costing you that much time. The average distance that motorists are following agricultural equipment is less than 2 miles, which equates to less than 6 minutes of your day.

Precautions needed on farm and field too

On the farm and in the field, there are a few precautions to review, especially around grain handling. When thinking about grain entrapment, make sure to use lockout and tagout equipment. Never work alone around a bin, always wear a harness, and never work in a bin with the auger running. Check wires and electrical equipment to prevent any electrical fires or electrocutions. Keep guards in place. Avoid wearing loose clothing that may become entangled in equipment. Shutdown equipment before doing maintenance. Practice safe climbing procedures to prevent falls. Finally, don’t forego PPE such as dust masks and hearing protection. Please take farm safety seriously, the number of injuries and lives lost can be greatly reduced through proper training and being educated on safety procedures.

Frank Becker is the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator with Ohio State University Extension – Wayne County, and a Certified Crop Adviser, and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or
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This article was previously published in The Daily Record.