Despite the uncertainty of 2020, farmers have already been hard at work during the fall harvest. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), Nebraska Farm Bureau, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Office remind the public of ways to stay safe this season.
NPPD reminds large equipment operators to keep safety at the front of their minds and “Look Up and Look Out” for power lines as they head back to the fields.
A press release from NPPD outlined the following information about harvest safety:
NPPD Vice-President of Energy Delivery Art Wiese says coming close to, or hitting, power lines becomes a significant hazard during the harvest season.
“It’s easy for an equipment operator to accidentally get a piece of equipment too close to a powerline or even make contact if they are not aware of their surroundings,” noted Wiese. “If large equipment gets too close to a power line, electricity can arc from the line to the equipment, potentially causing major damage and severe injury to the operator.”
NPPD encourages equipment operators to keep their machines 20 feet away from power lines to avoid the possibility of any electricity arcing from the line to the equipment.
If a power line falls onto a vehicle or piece of equipment, anyone inside the vehicle should remain there until help can arrive and deenergize the power line. When a powerline is touching a vehicle or lying on the ground, it can electrify both the vehicle and the ground in the surrounding area. If a fire forces you to exit the vehicle then do so by jumping away from the vehicle, landing on two feet and shuffling as far away from the area as possible.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau offers a few tips to remember when sharing the road with large equipment.
Farmers: Get plenty of rest and slow down to avoid accidents on the farm. Don’t hurry through equipment repairs, take your time with backing up large pieces of machinery, keep your hands away and don’t wear loose clothing around moving auger parts.
Drivers: Drive without distractions. We hear it all the time: Don’t text or check your smartphone while driving. But distracted driving continues to be a leading cause of vehicular accident and during harvest time it could be especially dangerous as there may be more slow-moving vehicles on our roads and highways.
Farmers: If you’re driving farm equipment on public roads, it’s especially important that you’re clearly marked so motorists can see you in time to slow down — considering you’re probably driving less than 25 MPH. Make sure your lights are working and that all reflecting tape and slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblems are properly placed. Remember to wipe down some of these safety features if your equipment is dusty to ensure they can be seen. Also use flashers on public roads.
Drivers: If you are following behind a slow-moving vehicle, please play it safe and wait to safely pass and remember slow moving vehicles usually go from one field or pasture to another and turning may take extra time, so be patient. Most farmers will do their best to create space so you can pass, but awareness of where you’re driving and patience on everybody’s part is the best way to keep the roads safe during harvest season.
Sarah A. Sivits with the Dawson/Buffalo/Hall County Extension office also gives some reminders on how to stay safe during this stressful but rewarding time of the year.
*Good communication: Make sure everyone involved in the operation knows what the plan is for the day such as field location, time, equipment needed, and back-up plans
*Have a list of workers’ phone numbers and other emergency contacts in each vehicle and/or a central location
*Make sure equipment has slow moving vehicle signs, reflective tape, fire extinguishers, operating “back-up” sirens, safety shields, and handrails
*Keep fire extinguishers in the cab of the combine and one at ground level
*Have someone follow you when moving equipment between fields, especially on busy highways
*Personal Safety: Wear good work boots with slip-resistant soles/heels, face masks in dusty conditions, proper hearing and ear protection, proper clothing that won’t get caught in moving parts and is easy to see.
*Get plenty of sleep, eat regularly, take breaks, be patient
Preparing Grain Bins:
*Make sure bins and equipment is clean and void of old grain that could contaminate teh new crop going into storage
*Mow around the structure, re-grade for better water drainage, inspect foundation, replace damaged or missing anchor bolds, inspect roof for leaks or corrosion, check vents and access hatch