Wow, you’re about to harvest what USDA forecasts as a record corn crop of 13.365 billion bushels, which also reflects a record-large average yield of 165 bu./acre.
Now, get it in the bin and get it in safely. Sounds simple enough, but when you’recaught up in a harvest frenzy it’s easy to take shortcuts – and sometimes deadly ones – to get the crop out quickly.
Not a big surprise, but harvesttime is the most likely time for farm-related accidents resulting in serious injuries or fatalities, according to Bob Aherin, Extension ag safety specialist at the University of Illinois. Planting, another time-sensitive job, is the second most likely period.
The most common fatal injury in the field at corn and soybean harvest is getting crushed underneath the head, according to Mark Hanna, Iowa State University ag engineer. “Be sure you lock and block the head mechanically before getting underneath it. Also, disengage the power and shut off the engine before leaving the operator’s station to work on something,” he says.
Other fatalities include getting caught in augers and power-takeoff equipment, and falling off wagons and combines and getting run over, Aherin points out.
Safety specialists urge you to keep a 10-lb. fire extinguisher in the cab and a 20-lb. fire extinguisher mounted on the outside of the combine. Unfortunately, we all probably know someone who has been caught in a combine fire without having a functioning fire extinguisher handy.
Finally, watch out for small children, be cautious transporting equipment on narrow roads and pay special attention to potential suffocation disasters around grain carts and storage facilities. It only takes about 3-4 seconds before grain is up to your knees and as little as 14 seconds before your whole body becomes submerged.
You’re in a dangerous profession so take precautions seriously. Agriculture ranks as the third most dangerous occupation, behind only construction and transportation/warehousing, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Sadly, more than 65 crop farmers died from work-related accidents last year.
Please, don’t become one of those statistics.