Aug 17, 2020
Tips and Resources for a Safe Harvest
As harvest begins to start in many parts of Western Canada, Flaman is here to provide the tools and equipment you need to get your crop off quickly and safely. Along with our wide variety of Harvest Helpers to aid you in your work, we’ve collected some important and useful safety tips for harvest time. We want to make sure all our customers return safely from the field and have the resources to support their employees and family members on the farm.
This post will look at 4 main types of safety:
- Grain bin entrapment
- Fire safety and prevention
- Machinery and power lines
- COVID-19 safety
Grain Bin Entrapment
Tough grain is one of the leading causes for producers to enter a bin. Many studies have shown that entering a bin to break up spoiled grain while operating unloading equipment is the leading cause of grain entrapment. A person could become completely covered within 20 seconds. Across Canada, there’s an average of six fatalities every year from grain entrapment or engulfment.
If you need to enter a bin to asses grain, there is a Grain Bin Assessment chart from the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association you can use to assess if it’s safe to enter the bin.
This fact sheet from the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture also has some helpful information about how grain entrapment occurs, as well as preventative and safety measures.
And finally, if you wish to create a Confined Space Management Program for your farm, this quick start guide from Ag Safe Alberta is a useful tool. Along with grain bins, confined spaces also include sumps, wells, feed bins, attics and even some equipment.
Fire Safety and Prevention
Fires in the field can happen all too suddenly when working with dry, flammable material and hot mufflers and electrical wiring. There are some simple pre-cautionary measures you can take to help avoid the risk of injury or loss of equipment due to fire.
- Have working fire extinguishers mounted on equipment, ideally one in the cab and one accessible from the ground. Alberta Agriculture recommends a 10 pound dry chemical, multi-purpose ABC extinguisher and a 2.5 gallon pressurized water extinguisher on combines.
- Remove crop residue, dust, debris, dirt and excess lubricant around all heat sources regularly. Check for a buildup of combustible crop residue around engines and exhaust systems, concealed drive belts and pulleys that can overheat due to friction.
- Be careful when using low clearance vehicles in fields, as exhaust pipes and catalytic converters can ignite dry grass or stubble.
- Check exposed wiring and fuel/hydraulic lines for damage, wear and deterioration.
- Allow engines to cool before refueling.
And for added safety, Flaman carries a variety of firefighting pump and tank units, such as the Enduraplas Fire Ranger or the BE Fire Cart, to allow you to quickly put out any fires in the field while harvesting.
Machinery and Power Lines
Electrical safety is another important area to be aware of when working with large machinery on a farm. More than 40% of agricultural workers in Canada have reported direct hits or near misses with power lines. In 2019, there were 326 farm safety incidents reported to Sask Power. The most common causes of electrocutions on the farm are portable grain augers, large combines, high clearance sprayers and other tall equipment that can come into contact with overhead power lines.
There are two types of electrical injury that can occur:
- Electric shock, when electric current passes through the body causing injury or death.
- Arc flashes: a blast of energy caused by an electric arc, which can produce sounds waves, extreme heat, shrapnel and more, This can lead to lung injuries, ruptured ear drums, burns, blindness or death.
This guide “Electrical Safety on Saskatchewan Farms" from Sask Power talks about potential risks and hazards and offers safety tips, guides and checklists to make sure you and your workers come home safe. Or you can print out this Farm Safety Checklist to make sure everyone knows how to avoid overhead lines and what to do if an accident occurs.
This year, farming operations will have the added tasks of protecting workers and their family from COVID-19. As an essential service, we recognize that farmers must continue to work to grow our food and feed our country.
Along with the general pre-cautions such as hand washing, physical distancing, cleaning of work attire and wearing gloves, this fact sheet from the Canadian Centre for Occupation Health and Safety offers many safety tips specifically for the agricultural industry in areas such as:
- Group Living and Residence Recommendations
- Team and Site Management
- And much more.
For those interested in creating an overall safety plan for their operation, this workbook from Ag Safe Alberta lays out the steps to create your own Farm Safe Plan.