Ag Notes

It’s always time to think about farm safety

BY JERRY LITTLE

It’s a good time for all farmers to evaluate their own safety methods around machinery so they can avoid preventable accidents on their farms.

Whenever you work around or beneath farm machines or machine components held up by hydraulics, you should always engage the locking devices supplied by the manufacturer.  Hydraulic systems can leak or rupture. Even someone helping you might hit the wrong lever, so it is important that you use the locking device every time, without exception. Check the owner’s manual to be sure you know how to use it.

Combine headers, skid-steer loader arms and round baler tailgates are just a few examples of machines that typically have locking devices, specifically for the purpose of safely performing maintenance or repairs. Such devices generally consist of mechanical supports such as steel pins or channel that prevent a hydraulic cylinder from retracting and lowering the machine, but since every machine is different, it is important to consult the owner’s manual.

Older machines may not have safety locks, so you must have wood blocks or jack stands to hold up the machine — or angle iron or steel channel strapped to the hydraulic cylinder rod to prevent retraction, while someone is beneath it.

Regardless of a machine’s age, you never want to trust your life to anything supported by a hydraulic system. Machines fail, and they do not care who you are.

For more information on farm safety, contact the Boyle County Cooperative Extension Service.