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Safety First

Last week’s warm weather has caused many farmers to start hitting the fields preparing for this year’s growing season. Therefore, the number of slow moving vehicles on county and state roads are increasing making it important that all motorists are on the lookout.

Depending on the size of the equipment being used, it could take up the entire roadway. No matter what size it is, it is important that everyone shares the road. This means that farmers need to make sure their equipment has working lights (front, rear, and turn signals) and that they have a slow moving vehicle (SMV) sign posted where everyone can see it.

Slow moving vehicle signs are small red triangles with orange around the outside edges. If you come up on a vehicle that has a SMV sign, don’t honk your horn or try to pass, that puts everyone in danger. Instead, keep a safe distance between you and the farm equipment so you are able to stop quickly if the need arises. Farmers should be reminded to make sure their SMV signs are in good condition, can easily be seen, and replace them if they are damaged.

In addition to the precautions taken while traveling on the road, farmers should remember to always start their tractors while in the driver’s seat. If you are standing by the tractor and trying to start it, you will have a hard time making sure the transmission is in neutral or park and you increase your chances of being run over. Additionally, try not to work on the tractor while it is running or walk around it when a power take-off (PTO) is in operation. If you are near a PTO, make sure your clothing is not loose and you are extremely careful so that you do not become entangled in it.

Other injuries that can occur because of operating farm equipment are the result of falling off of the machine and either hurting your wrist, arm, hip, leg, or ankle. Often times, these injuries occur when you are trying to mount or dismount the machine in an unsafe, improper manner. When mounting or dismounting, always use the steps of the ladder. When climbing, never take two steps at a time because that is just asking for an injury to occur. While climbing, face the tractor and try to use the handholds that are available.

Farming is a dangerous occupation but one that is needed to help support the world. During busy times (planting and harvest), farmers need to be reminded not to push themselves too hard. Working extended hours on little sleep can cause anyone to forget about basic safety precautions they can take to protect themselves, their family, and their neighbors. Farmers that begin to feel tired while planting this spring, should take a break and allow their body a chance to rest before continuing. Due to the interaction of farmers and non-farm residents in the coming weeks, it is important that both parties understand the various safety precautions that need to be taken when working around farm equipment such as slowing down and being respectful.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay Co. or 829-5020 in Owen Co. or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu. Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
April 16—Special Interest Lesson Podiatry, 1 pm, Clay Co. Extension Office
April 20—Gardening for All Ages, 9am-4pm, Hendricks Co. Fairgrounds
April 20—9th Annual Indiana Dairy Youth Conference, Hendricks Co Fairgrounds, $11, Call
574-372-2340 to register
April 25 – Area V Pond Management Workshop, Fowler Park, Terre Haute, IN, 5:30-7:30 pm