Farmers, motorists urged to focus on safety during harvest

LINCOLN, NEB – Take a second for safety. As farmers are entering the fields to harvest and traveling roads, the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) is asking farmers and those driving near harvest equipment to take precaution during this busy harvest season.

Agriculture remains one of the more dangerous occupations in North America, but exercising caution, getting rest and being safety-minded can go a long way toward making it safer for everyone involved.

“With an expected large crop and a later harvest this year, farmers will be working hard to get the crops out of the fields,” said Tim Scheer, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from St. Paul, Nebraska. “Working hard and fast in the field or on the farm could cause a chance for error where an injury or fatality could be prevented by taking appropriate precautions or simply taking time.”

This caution for safety isn’t for farmers alone, said Scheer. Motorists driving on rural roads during harvest should watch out for slower moving farm equipment. Rural intersections will have heavier-than-normal travel and dusty conditions that could limit visibility, as can sun glare in the morning and evening. Standing crops in the field may also block a clear view of oncoming traffic.

The “Take a Second for Safety” tagline echoes the efforts of the NCB and NeCGA at events this year. At Husker Harvest Days, Nebraska Corn hosted a giveaway of two grain engulfment rescue tubes to be given to local fire departments. Cedar Rapids, Nebraska and Newcastle, Nebraska volunteer fire departments were the fortunate recipients of these tubes.

“We hope to never have to use a grain rescue tube in the event of a grain engulfment,” said Emily Thornburg, NeCGA’s program director. “But in the case that one does happen, our goal is to have emergency personnel armored with the tools they need to save a life.”

The goal of Nebraska Corn’s efforts is to help fire departments across the state receive rescue tubes, as well as helping them obtain training in the event that someone working in or around grain becomes engulfed. The chances of survival for that person are greatly increased if there is a grain rescue tube available to fire departments nearby.

On the trainings, Nebraska Corn has worked with the Safety & Technical Rescue Association (SATRA). SATRA encourages seven grain entrapment prevention principles to keep in mind when working around grain.

1. Prevent entrapments by developing a zero-entry mentality.
a. Stay out of the bin, if at all possible.
2. NEVER enter a bin with grain in it by yourself.
a. The entry supervisor, entrant and attendant must work together and be able to communicate effectively with each other.
3. NEVER enter a bin with grain in it without training.
a. The employer should provide annual hands-on training.
4. Complete the permit properly and identify all hazards.
a. Have all potential hazards been identified and addresses?
5. Shut down and lockout equipment.
a. All equipment involved in the storage, drying, and material handling systems should be locked out and tagged during entry, service, and maintenance operations.
6. Maintain control of the lifeline.
a. Your lifeline is useless, unless it is secured properly.
7. Identify and contact the emergency response group.
a. Check of make sure emergency response group is properly trained and check with your local fire department for expected response time to your location for this type of incident.

“While we all recognize the excitement and enjoyment of harvest,” Scheer said. “Staying focused and resting regularly are two proactive steps in keeping things safe around the farm for everyone, including family members and employees helping to harvest the crop.”

The Nebraska Corn Board’s market development, research, promotion and education programs are funded and managed by Nebraska corn farmers. Producers invest at a rate of 1/2 of a cent per bushel of corn sold. Nebraska corn checkoff funds are invested in programs of market development, research and education.
The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) is a grassroots commodity organization that works to enhance the profitability of corn producers. NeCGA has more than 2,400 dues paying members in Nebraska. NeCGA is affiliated with the National Corn Growers Association, which has more than 36,000 dues paying members nationwide.

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