• By Micah Dorfner

Farm safety reminders and tips during harvest season

September 15, 2016

harvesting farm equipment in field with sun in backgroundIn anticipation of the upcoming harvest season, it’s important for those in farming communities to be well-prepared and safe. Long hours, powerful machinery and isolated jobs all make the risk of farm-related injuries, which can often be fatal, quite high. However, remembering a few dependable safety practices and picking up a new tip or two can help you avoid a serious accident.

Maria Flor, a Mayo Clinic Health System nurse and trauma coordinator, provides these tips for farm safety:

  • Stay rested.
    Being overtired creates an impaired mental state comparable to intoxication. Most farmers wouldn’t consider operating their equipment while drunk, but many still work 20-hour days during fall harvest. Don’t sacrifice your well-being for the sake of efficiency.
  • Take breaks.
    It’s important to reset and refocus from time to time. Take regular breaks to give your body and mind a chance to recuperate.
  • Stay hydrated, and don’t skip meals.
    Dehydration and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can be more dangerous than you may realize. Ensure you’re drinking plenty of water and eating consistent, nutritious meals throughout the day.
  • Work during daylight hours.
    The more hours you put in after dark, the greater your risk of injury. Do the bulk of your work while the sun is still up.
  • Carry a first-aid kit with a tourniquet.
    Do you have a first-aid kit with a tourniquet close by in your truck, combine or both? If not, you really should. These tools save lives and limbs. Of injured people who die from blood loss, half die within 30 minutes. Manage uncontrolled bleeding to the arms and legs with direct pressure and tourniquets. Manage uncontrolled bleeding to the torso junctional locations (groin, shoulder, armpit and neck) with direct pressure or wound packing. Uncontrolled bleeding from arms and legs, as well as uncontrolled bleeding in the chest and abdomen, which cannot be managed outside a hospital, is the most preventable cause of death in injured patients. It’s so important to control and stop the bleeding.
  • Follow best management practices.
    Respect recommended usage of safety mechanisms and shields on your equipment. Don’t use shortcuts because they’re more convenient. You’ll end up compromising your safety.
  • Create a plan.
    Employ a safety check-in process for your family and/or team. Share how long you plan to work and set ongoing check-in times, so someone knows whether or not you’re OK. If you’re caught in a machine or bleeding in a field without the ability to call for help, things could end up dire.

“Harvest season is a memorable time filled with hard work and family tradition. But it can also be a dangerous time if you don’t take the proper precautionary measures,” says Flor. “Keep the aforementioned tips in mind to stay safe, healthy and happy on the farm and in the field. Thank you to our farming community for all your hard work and dedication.”

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