Harvest has begun. Farmers are cutting the first few swaths of the 2018 harvest. It’s been a rainy summer, probably wetter than anyone except old-timers can recall, so yields likely will be respectable, if not better than normal. With so much corn to bring in, there may be the urge to hurry or cut corners.
That would be a mistake because it places speed ahead of safety, and when farmers work too fast or too long, bad consequences can happen. That’s the message this week from two of the Cornhusker State’s corn authorities, the Nebraska Corn Board and National Corn Growers.
Those groups and others are echoing the time-honored warning that “haste makes waste” as they issue harvest safety advice in hopes of preventing unspeakable harm.
Harvest should be a time when farmers and those close to them enjoy the satisfaction of completing another growing season and reaping the rewards of their efforts.
Sadly, the numbers tell us that harvest multiplies the chances that bad injuries could befall area farmers. More than 2 million workers are employed full-time in production agriculture. Multiply the potential causes for accidents times 2 million and you’ll see that safety is everyone’s business.
Farmers shouldn’t fool themselves into believing that someone down the road is going to get hurt, “not me.” That’s the kind of attitude that primes the pump for misery.
The Corn Board warns that harvest is a narrow window of opportunity. There’s little time to complete the harvest after corn finally is ready to be picked, so the temptation is to work long hours, and push through with as little sleep as possible.
Well-rested farmers are safer and more productive farmers. One solution to the sleep dilemma is to take short breaks and recharge. Don’t hurry, get some rest, and always put safety first.
Cars vs. combines
Farmers aren’t the only people who should be cautious during the harvest season. If you’re visiting country cousins or sightseeing through rural areas, be mindful of increased farm traffic on roads and highways. Law requires that harvest equipment is equipped with high visibility emblems and front and rear warning lights, but those safety precautions are useless if motorists aren’t paying attention.
Combines and other harvest equipment might look as if it’s moving slowly, but even slow-moving vehicles are capable of quickly turning in front of a car attempting to pass them.
Finally, if you are among city folk visiting a friend or relative on the farm, remember that heavy equipment is powerful and dangerous, especially if you’re not familiar with the threats. In rural areas, parents of small children should keep a close watch over their kids. Tractors and combines might look fun places to climb and explore, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Never approach equipment until you’re invited to do so. At harvest time, Mr. Farmer is in charge.