Farm Safety: Avoid Slips and Falls During Harvest Season

September 21, 2016
ICM News

The 2016 Iowa Farm Safety and Health Week is held in conjunction with National Farm Safety and Health Week Sept. 18-24. This year’s theme is “Farm Safety…A Legacy to be Proud Of.”

This is the 73rd observance of the National Farm Safety and Health Week that was originally declared by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt signed the first proclamation for farm safety in 1944 because of the high injury rate in agriculture that was impacting the nation’s production efforts during World War II.

Nearly 75 years later, agriculture still ranks as the most dangerous industry in the United States.

Today, safety professionals use this week to remind those working within the industry to be careful. Agriculture has the highest annual death rates per 100,000 workers in the nation, surpassing all the other industries including mining, construction, and manufacturing. Agriculture’s death rate is more than five times higher than all U.S. industries combined. This high death rate is why Iowans must use safe farming practices during harvest and throughout the year.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach wants to remind farmers to focus their attention on potential slips and falls, which can be linked to serious injuries. Slips and falls are a major cause of injuries throughout the year, but especially common around machinery, equipment, and structures during harvest.

Here are simple steps to follow that can help farmers avoid slips and falls:

  • Always consider the height from which you work.
  • Before climbing on farm machine or structures, scrape mud or manure off of shoes.
  • Keep the work platform, foot plate, and steps free of debris.
  • Use shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles and heels.
  • Dismount equipment only when it has come to a complete stop.

Tops of combines are 12-14 feet off the ground and the operator's platform is usually 6-8 feet above the ground. Ladders on grain bins can exceed 30 feet. A fall to the ground or onto other machinery can result in back injuries, serious sprains, broken bones or death.

Secondary hazards on work or walk surfaces increases the possibility of falls. Mud, grease, or loose grain can make work surfaces slippery. That's why it is important to keep shoes clean, and always keep those walking surfaces free of debris.

Employ grab bars or railings when mounting and dismounting. It is important when mounting and dismounting to keep three points of contact: two hand holds and one foot, or two feet and one hand hold at all times. This three-point connection reduces the potential of a fall. Also, avoid carrying items in your hands while climbing ladders or equipment steps.

Related links:
Iowa State University Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering-Agricultural Health and Safety
National Safety Council

Related bulletins:
Evaluate Equipment for Dangers
Match Age, Abilities to Farm Chores

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Integrated Crop Management News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on September 21, 2016. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.