10 Safety Tips for Planting Season
During long and busy days planting, there are many shifting priorities and tasks for farmers to manage, while keeping an eye on operating profitability. Agricultural metrics are important to your bottom line and success of your farm.
Disclaimer: This post was co-written by Norm, the World’s First AI Ag Advisor and FBN’s Heather Stone, CSP and Senior EHS Analyst.
Profitability and safety go hand in hand. Having an accident on your farm takes a physical, mental and emotional toll on everyone involved. Accidents can delay planting, damage or ruin equipment, lead to lawsuits and increased insurance costs.
As you prepare your fields, sow your seeds, and watch your crops grow, it is essential to keep safety at the forefront of your mind.
Here are ten safety tips that can help you navigate the planting season safely, for a successful harvest.
1. Proper Storage of Seeds and Fertilizers
Proper storage of seeds and fertilizers is essential for the success of your crops. Seed storage with proper temperature, humidity, and aeration can maximize seed integrity, reduce pests and mold. Ensuring correct moisture content can prevent spoiling and clumping.
Moisture in grain can also cause hazards such as clogged equipment, grain bridging and grain avalanches. For fertilizer storage, keep toxic organic or compound fertilizers far away from grain, seed and other agricultural products.
Keep fertilizers away from incompatible materials such as fuels, oils, pesticides, etc.. Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment, (PPE) when checking these fertilizers.
Store fertilizers in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place away from heat, fire and moisture sources. Make sure to keep these materials out of reach of children and animals.
2. Safe Chemical Handling & PPE
Farmers often work with chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers. To reduce the risk of exposure, ALWAYS read and follow the label instructions, safety data sheet (SDS), and wear appropriate PPE.
Dispose of empty containers according to local regulations. Investing in appropriate PPE is crucial. Make sure to wear sturdy, close-toed shoes, long pants and long-sleeved shirts to protect your skin from potential hazards.
Don’t forget about eye and hearing protection. A good pair of gloves can also protect your hands from blisters and injury. A pair of gloves to prevent hand injuries is different from a pair of gloves to prevent chemical exposure.
Butyl rubber gloves are typically a good solution when working with chemicals though, you should always follow the label and SDS guidance.
If you need help selecting the right gloves review, Types of Gloves To Protect Your Hands from Hazardous Chemicals
3. Proper Equipment Maintenance
Before you head out into the field, ensure your equipment is in good working order. Regularly inspect your tractors, planters, and other machinery for wear and tear.
Replace any damaged parts and perform routine maintenance such as changing fluids, greasing joints and tightening belts. A well-maintained machine is not only more efficient but also significantly safer to operate.
4. Proper Lighting and Visibility
Good lighting and visibility are crucial for safety, especially when working early in the morning or late in the evening. Make sure your machinery has working headlights, taillights, and hazard lights.
Adding reflective tape or markings to your equipment can also improve visibility for other drivers and workers.
5. Safe Transport of Equipment on Public Roads
When moving machinery and equipment between fields or locations, always follow proper safety guidelines. Ensure all equipment is securely hitched and double-check all connections before hitting the road.
Follow appropriate speed limits, use hazard lights and display “Slow Moving Vehicle” signs to alert other drivers of your presence.
Additionally, avoid transporting equipment during peak traffic times, if possible. Never travel left of the centerline in the dark.
6. Avoid Fatigue and Drowsy Driving
Planting season can be a stressful and busy time. Fatigue can impair your judgment, reaction time and ability to operate machinery safely.
Make sure you get adequate sleep and avoid driving or operating equipment when you’re feeling drowsy. Encourage your workers to do the same. Consider implementing flexible schedules to allow for breaks, when needed.
[RELATED: Saving Lives and Reducing Cost: The Importance of a Strong Safety Culture]
7. Be Aware of your Surroundings
Whether you’re operating a tractor or walking through your fields, always be aware of your surroundings. Look out for uneven terrain, holes, or other obstacles that could cause injury.
When operating machinery, be especially cautious near ditches, embankments, water and power lines.
Additionally, be mindful of other workers in the area and communicate your intentions to ensure everyone’s safety.
8. Use Proper Lifting Techniques
Farmers often lift and carry heavy items like seed bags, fertilizers and machinery parts. To avoid strain and injury, always lift with your legs, not your back.
Bend your knees, keep your back straight and avoid twisting your body when lifting. If an object is too heavy for one person to lift, don’t hesitate to ask for help or use equipment like a dolly or a forklift.
9. Take Care of your Body
During long hours in the field, it’s essential to stay hydrated and take breaks, as needed. Carry a water bottle with you, and drink frequently to avoid dehydration. Remember to take short breaks before you start to feel fatigued.
Overexertion can lead to injury, so it’s crucial to listen to your body and rest when necessary. Taking care of your body through sleep, nutrition and hydration will decrease the chance of injury and ensure crops are planted in a timely fashion.
10. Additional Safety Tips for Planting Season
Review tractor safety tips with workers like the ones in this article, Ten Tips for Tractor Safety
According to the National Safety Council overturned tractors account for nearly 50% of tractor fatalities.
Do general safety checks of anhydrous ammonia tanks before using them in the field.
Plan your planting routes according to your workers and property.
Keep fire extinguishers in accessible locations, and ensure your workers know how to use them.
Keep a well-stocked first aid kit on hand.
Ensure you have all the respirators ready that you and your workers will be wearing.
Provide basic first aid training for workers.
Consider taking a course in first aid and CPR.
Check the weather and plan your work accordingly.
Watch for wildlife in your area.
Have a safety plan, communicate it and stick with it.
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ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS. It is a violation of federal and state law to use any pesticide product other than in accordance with its label. The distribution, sale and use of an unregistered pesticide is a violation of federal and/or state law and is strictly prohibited. We do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided on this page or which is provided by us in any form. It is your responsibility to confirm prior to purchase and use that a product is labeled for your specific purposes, including, but not limited to, your target crop or pest and its compatibility with other products in a tank mix and that the usage of a product is otherwise consistent with federal, state and local laws. We reserve the right to restrict sales on a geographic basis in our sole discretion. You must have a valid applicator license to use restricted use pesticides. Please consult your state department of agriculture for complete rules and regulations on the use of restricted use pesticides, as some products require specific record-keeping requirements.