Setting realistic work priorities and being prepared for planting season are the most important safety tips for farmers to remember this spring, says a Purdue University Extension farm safety specialist.
"Farmers often feel pressured to get out into the fields too early, and that can often cause problems," said Bill Field, who also leads Purdue Extension's Agricultural Safety and Health program. "Taking time now to get ready for planting season will prevent more mishaps in the long run."
Preparing machinery and performing preventative maintenance is a good place to start. If something seems like it may fail later, change it now.
"It only adds frustrations when equipment breaks down in the field, so farmers should be sure to start the season confident with their machines," Field said.
An assessment of previous years can help prepare for this year, too. Looking at previous years' problems and making changes before planting starts can save time and energy once the season begins.
Stress and fatigue often present greater risk for on-farm accidents. Field suggested hiring a few part-time employees during the busy weeks of planting season to keep farmers from trying to do everything themselves. He also said it's a good idea for farmers to keep themselves in good physical condition heading into the busy season.
"Many farmers lay dormant during the winter months compared to the demanding physical labor they encounter during spring planting," Field said. "I encourage farmers to get out a few weeks before planting and exercise a little more than usual to help them personally prepare for the weeks ahead."
Having cell phones handy at all times can save time and energy and provide timely help in case of emergency. "Farmers should look at their phones as a safety feature, not an inconvenience," he said.
Sharing the roads always is an issue this time of year. Drivers of both passenger vehicles and farm equipment need to be careful and considerate of one another.
More farm safety advice and information are available on the Purdue Agricultural Safety and Health program website.