Harvest in full swing in Alfalfa County, remember to travel safely

Harvest is underway for Alfalfa County and the Cherokee area.

Reports have come in that harvest has started in parts of Alfalfa County.

With harvest underway, here are a few safety reminders for during harvest.

Harvest Safety

During the harvest season, there are many hours spent in combines, tractors, trucks and other equipment by farmers and workers who will be transporting large equipment on our roads and highways.

Some workers may be young, new or inexperienced, so it’s always a good suggestion to go over safety considerations with all workers to teach the importance of safety on the farm.

Agriculture ranks among the nation’s most hazardous industries. Farmers are at very high risk for both fatal and nonfatal injuries.

Farming is one of the few industries involving family members, who often share the work and live on the premises.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 893,000 youth under 20 years of age resided on farms in 2014, with about 450,000 youth performing farm work.

In 2017, 416 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury, resulting in a fatality rate of 20.4 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Tractor overturns were the leading cause of death for these farmers and farm workers.

Here are a few safety tips to consider on the farm:

• Read operators manual(s).

• Install Slow-Moving Vehicle (SMV) signs.

• Wear seat belts.

• Put equipment in neutral or park, engage parking brake, and turn off engine before dismounting. Wait until all mechanisms have stopped moving before attempting to service or unclog a machine.

• Locking hydraulic cylinders or supporting the head prior to working under it is always recommended.

• Limit riders on equipment. Instructional seats are designed for training or diagnosing machine problems.

• Keep all guards in place.

• Get enough sleep.

• Train all operators to safely operate the equipment.

• Fatigue, stress, medication, alcohol and drugs cause you to not focus on tasks.

• Have all safety equipment in proper condition and ready to use such as safety glasses, hearing protection and respiratory masks.

• Have ROPS (rollover protective structures) fitted on tractors.

Safety on Public Roads

Everyone on the roads can work together to prevent traffic collisions involving farm equipment.

Use all required available safety devices and driving skills when operating farm equipment on public roads.

Roll-over protection, safety hitch, SMV emblem, rear-view mirrors, signal lights, hand signals, clearance lights and/or reflectors are all aids to safety on the highway. Make sure all loads are properly secured.

Allow traffic to pass. Be considerate of others, and pull over to the shoulder when necessary. Keep your tractor and implements in your lane.

If your equipment is wider than the traffic lane, keep it over on the shoulder. Avoid excessive speed and drive defensively.

One of the most important items to remember is to be patient with tractors and combines as they travel between fields.

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