Business

The Top Dangers on a Farm

Written by Adam Torkildson

Farming is a rewarding profession, but life on the farm comes with several risks that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In fact, it’s on numerous lists as one of the most dangerous jobs. It’s not just the equipment that presents a risk, although that’s what this article will focus on. Environmental hazards, over-exertion, and similar issues plague farmers.

We’ve created a list of the most hazardous things on a farm so you can take care to avoid injury.

Hydraulic Cylinders

Modern farms depend on hydraulic cylinders to keep them running at optimal efficiency.  Equipment and vehicles all utilize hydraulics that present an ever-present danger to farmers. So, it’s important that you take the proper care when maintaining machines that use hydraulic cylinders or when installing replacement hydraulic cylinders.

Hydraulics expose farmers to three hazards – high-pressure fluid, injection into the skin, and burning.

Hydraulic fluid is under tremendous pressure so you have to relieve this pressure before working on these systems. For instance, a leak in the hose can cause fluid to be ejected at a velocity that pierces the skin. This will cause fluid to be injected into the skin like a hypodermic syringe. The problem is that by the time the pain becomes unmanageable and the individual sees a doctor about it, it’s probably too late. If hydraulic fluid enters the skin, see a doctor immediately even if there is no noticeable pain.

Avoid this type of injury by using a piece of wood to check for leaks in the hose.

Grain Bins

Grain bins are considered one of the biggest dangers on a farm due to potential suffocation. This is caused when a worker enters a bin, and the packed grain suddenly breaks apart. When that happens, the worker can sink and get engulfed by the grain. This carries an extremely high 62% fatality rate.

Never enter a silo when is grain is caked high on the walls. If the silo must be entered, always follow the proper safety procedure and only enter when there is more than one person present.

Electrocution

At first glance, electrocution is not seen as an immediate danger to a farmer, but the statistics show that it’s definitely a cause for concern. The reason is that electrical equipment is found all over the farm. In fact, 10% of farmers are electrocuted on the job at least once in their lives. Although most of them don’t die, the shock can adversely affect their health.

The most common danger comes from overhead power lines. Farming equipment is bulky and will contact these overhead power lines if you’re not careful.

Another danger is exposed lines on farming equipment. Over time, insulation wears off and will pose electrical risk during maintenance. The only way to prevent electrocution is to pay close attention when you’re working with farming equipment.

Combines

Pickers and combines are used to harvest crops. These large machines use a lot of dangerous moving parts that will cause fatal injuries. In fact, the National Agricultural Safety Database claims that almost every farmer knows someone who has been injured by a combine.

The most injuries come from the rollers. They get clogged during operation and workers attempt to clear them without shutting off the machine. This is done to save time. These rollers move at a rotation of 12 feet per second so a farmer has less than a second to let go before being pulled in. Considering how long it takes the brain to even process the command and send it to the hand, that’s cutting it close.

Avoid this type of injury by shutting off the machine before attempting to unclog it. Your life is more important than a few minutes of downtime.

Power Take Off (PTO)

No. We’re not talking about paid time off here. PTO is a term that farmers use to describe the transmission of power between points in farming equipment. For instance, a tractor will transmit power to a brush hog mower.

These contact points carry a high electrical current while the engine is running. Although manufacturers take steps to shield these areas, many farmers will remove them during maintenance and then forget to reinstall them. Never remove components that are designed to shield from electricity.

Tractor Rollovers

Farming equipment is often operated on uneven ground, so it has the propensity to turn over when it loses balance. Almost all experienced farmers who operate tractors have experienced a rollover at least once in their life.

Newer models of tractors have rollover protection designed into them, but the older models don’t have this luxury. Always wear a seatbelt when operating a tractor to avoid being thrown from the machine during a rollover. This is the most common form of injury.

Final Thoughts

Farming is a dangerous lifestyle, but most injuries come from taking shortcuts in order to save time. However, these injuries lead to a higher cost than the time it takes to do the job safely. So please take the proper steps to avoid injury.

About the author

Adam Torkildson