Safety-check equipment before planting

If you farm, spring should be a time to check your safety practices.

“A lot of times farmers are in such a hurry to get crops in the ground they sometimes don’t remember that protecting themselves, their family and workers comes first,” said Jimmy Maass, safety coordinator for Virginia Farm Bureau.

Before heading out to the field, examine all equipment to ensure it’s in proper working order. “Follow all of the manufacturer’s recommendations, and inspect the equipment to make sure it’s up to their specifications,” Maass said. “Check bearings, hydraulic hoses, tires and signal lights, among other things.”

Make sure all safety equipment is in place, from power take-off shields, safety chains and chain guards to slow-moving vehicle emblems and reflective tape — before leaving for the field. “It’s a good idea to give all equipment a once-over inspection at the barn before heading out to plant,” Maass said.

When planting, producers should use caution and common sense when lifting heavy items, such as seed bags. “Lift using your legs, not your back. If the item is too heavy, get someone to help you,” Maass said.

When using chemicals or chemical-coated seeds, remember to wear the appropriate personal protection equipment listed on the product label.

When cutting hay, make sure all equipment has the proper PTO guards and shields. Also make sure no cutter blades, teeth and bars are broken, bent or cracked. Do not use regular bolts in place of sheer bolts, and keep plenty of sheer bolts handy.

Shut down all equipment before working on it.

For a round baler, engage safety locks or valves on the cylinders when the tailgate is lifted up, so it won’t fall down on top of you.

Display an SMV emblem and reflective tape on all hay-moving equipment. It’s also a good idea to use an escort or lead vehicle when moving hay on roadways.

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