Summer break for students has finally arrived and for many this means spending more time with relatives who farm or possibly even working on a farm. Farm work is a great learning experience but there are many important precautions that are vital to insure a safe farming experience.
One of the biggest threats for potential injury is around farm machinery, especially machinery that has what is called a “pinch point”. A “pinch point” is an area where two or more rotating parts move together with at least one of the parts rotating in a circular motion. These rotating parts can operate at a high rate of speed and have the potential to cause serious injury. Many pieces of farm machinery have pinch points. Chain drives, belt drives, gears, pulley drives, sprockets, and PTO shafts are common on many farms and all have possible “pinch points”.
Serious injury can quickly occur around “pinch points” if a person’s clothes or extremities accidentally brush against a chain or belt and become entangled. All farm workers, especially youth, should be fully aware of the potential for injury before even coming in contact with farm machinery. Being aware of any moving parts that can present danger and being safe at all times when working with or even near them is vital. Here are a few precautions that should always be observed:
• Identify machines with possible “pinch points” and place or maintain obvious warning labels.
• Educate and train everyone who will be using or even near each piece of machinery in how to operate it properly and explain all the potential dangers.
• Be sure all safety shields and guards are in place and securely mounted. If a guard or shield becomes worn or breaks off, have it replaced immediately.
• Always turn off any machinery and wait until all moving parts have come to a complete stop before preforming any maintenance.
• Alert everyone in the area when maintenance is taking place on machinery to prevent someone from mistakenly turning the machine back on before the maintenance has been completed.
• Always wear clothes that fit well while operating machinery. Jewelry, drawstrings on hoods, long untied hair, baggy vests, jackets, or even fabrics can easily get caught in a “pinch point”.
• Always watch your footing around farm machinery. Movement should be slow and careful, never rushed.
With so much work to be done on the farm every day, especially in the summer, it is easy to forget that safety must be a top priority; however, it only takes a second to get caught in a situation that could cause great bodily harm. Let’s all work mindful this summer and make it the most productive and safe yet.
Max Knowles is an Extension Agent specializing in livestock with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center. He can reached by phone: 592-7161 or e-mail: [email protected]