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Safety starts with me

This planting season make safe farming a priority
By Tim Bogy, GreenPoint Ag Interim Environment, Health & Safety Director 3/17/2021

This month launches one of the busiest times of the year as, weather permitting, farmers begin the 2021 planting season. This means long hours and hard days for growers as they work to get seed in the ground for this year’s crop. 

As the demands of this busy season begin, safety should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. At GreenPoint Ag, safety is a topic of daily discussion. It’s not something we only do in the off season, or focus on this week, but not the next. Every GreenPoint Ag employee takes the pledge, “Safety starts with me.” 

We recommend you and your farm employees focus on safety as well. Throughout the hurried pace of the season, it’s easy to focus more on just getting the job done. But a bit of preparation and consideration can help everyone stay safe. 

Make sure your equipment is adequately maintained and in good working condition. Ensure safety equipment and features are in place and operating properly. Follow all laws concerning travel on roads and ensure proper lighting and safety placards are in place. 

Maintain your focus on the task at hand. Be aware of your surroundings and watch for children. (They are often attracted to the machinery and want to be around parents and friends.)

If you are in a leadership position on the farm, communicate the importance of safety to all workers. A brief meeting to discuss safety and the chores ahead can help everyone focus. Do this daily to ensure proper procedures are so ingrained, they become habit. You or your employees shouldn’t have to think about the safest way to do something — you want it to just come naturally.

Follow label directions on any crop-protection products. Be sure adequate safety equipment is available. 

Choose the right tool for the job. I remember when I was growing up on my family’s farm in Wabbaseka, Ark., my uncle kept an old, worn-out monkey wrench handy on the farm. He would use that tool like a hammer or a prybar, but rarely for its intended purpose. His approach was certainly one I would advise against. Instead of using an adjustable wrench as a hammer, take a few extra moments and get the proper tool. Farmers have an admirable “get it done” attitude — that’s our nature — but we should always slow down and do things properly.

Often, the safest method is not the quickest alternative, but it is always the best choice. Taking a little extra time to do things properly will save you money and frustration in the long run.

Planting season can be hard on both body and mind. Growers may spend up to 18 hours in the tractor seat, and fatigue can cause us to take shortcuts and be unsafe. It’s a good idea to take breaks often, get adequate sleep, and don’t skip meals. If you are getting tired and starting to work unsafely, you may not recognize when it’s time to call it a day. Be mindful of the dangers of fatigue, and watch out for one another. 

Let’s get through this challenging time safely.

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