As a farmer, you know that safety is a vital aspect to the smooth functioning of your farm. However, not everyone is fully aware of the health and safety regulations of owning and using farm equipment.
The regulations regarding farm equipment safety must be strictly adhered to, as not only will they keep both you and your workers safe, but these regulations are in place to guard farmers from any incidents or legal actions that may be taken should something occur.
What are the regulations?
The safety regulations for farm equipment, such as tractors and other large machinery, include both exterior and interior aspects and assessments. The regulations and rules include the following.
- The employer or farm manager shall provide instruction and supervision to a worker operating farm equipment, to ensure the complete safety of the worker.
- All equipment must be fully maintained and operational, and maintenance records must be kept up to date.
- Farm equipment must be used for its intended purpose, as specified by the manufacturer.
- If the equipment is modified, the employee and the machinery operator must consider how the modifications will affect the safe use of the equipment.
- All safety decals should be visible and free from obstruction. And if they are damaged or broken, they should be replaced.
- A procedure should be put in place to ensure that the power cannot be engaged during repairs or maintenance.
- All shields and guards should be put in place as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If using a shield or guard prohibits the piece of equipment from operating or performing its intended purpose, the employer should guard against hazards with additional measures to protect workers.
Hazard safety requirements
- Shear/cutting points: Shear points are created when the edges of two parts are moved close enough together to cut a material or object. Workers should be shown the dangers of shear points and guards should be put in place to prevent exposure.
- Pinch points: Pinch points are formed when two objects move together, and at least one point is moving in a circle. Workers should be educated about pinch points, and measures should be put in place to avoid exposure.
- Wrap points: Wrap points are rotating components that hair or clothing can be caught in. Workers should have uniforms or clothing that is not able to become entangled in moving compartments.
- Crush points: Crush points are created when one or two objects move toward one another. Workers should be educated about crush points and be taught how to avoid any potentially dangerous situations.
- Pull in points: Pull in points occur when plant materials of other objects become stuck in feed-rolls or other machinery parts. Workers should be taught a lockout procedure and the power should always be turned off before attempting to remove any stuck materials.
- Freewheeling parts: Freewheeling parts are parts of a machine or piece of equipment that continue moving after the power is shut off or the machine is in lockout mode. To avoid contact with these parts, workers need to wait for them to stop spinning in order to begin repairs or maintenance.
- Springs: Springs are used to help life equipment, such as shock absorbers, and to keep belts tights. Because springs may have energy that can be potentially dangerous, a worker should always know what direction it will be going to move in, in order to avoid it.
- Hydraulics systems: Hydraulics systems are used to lift and change the position of attachments, operate hydraulic motors and assist in steering and braking. Workers should not perform repairs or maintenance on these systems, but rather a professionally-qualified and certified mechanic.
Personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment can be understood as any clothing or equipment that farm workers are required to wear when operating machinery or performing tasks in or around the farm that require dangerous activity.
The protective equipment needs to include hearing protections, which is worn in environments where the noise level is above 85 decibels. This hearing protection equipment can include earplugs or muffs and must provide acceptable noise reduction.
This protective equipment must also include respiratory protection, as working with farm machinery often causes dusts, mists and fumes to be present in the surrounding air.
Disposable respirators, chemical cartridge respirators and powered air purifying respirators are the options which should be used when workers are in a situation where their breathing could be compromised.
Farm equipment safety is vitally important to the successful functioning of a farm or agricultural business. You should always follow the manuals and manufacturer’s instructions, as well as implement your own safety measures. Remember that successful farm safety starts with you.