This post originally appeared on ILSoyAdvisor on September 22, 2020.

I know you’re thinking this might be another repetitive article about basic, common sense information. But it’s that very mindset that increases the likelihood of farming accidents. Most accidents happen in the peak of the season when everyone is tired from the long days and little down time. Optimal weather conditions and daylight hours seem to be at a minimum and the time to get the year’s crop out shrinks as the year comes to a close.
This issue is personal for me because I lost my grandfather in a combining accident in December 2019 and it has forever changed the way I look at that piece of equipment. I used to only see the amazing ability to harvest crops, and today I see that and how dangerous it can also be in the blink of an eye.
I have the comfort of knowing my grandfather passed doing what he enjoyed and I have the ability to say what he would have wanted to say today. Slow down, watch your surroundings, ask for help and enjoy agriculture.
September 17th-23rd is the 2023 National Farm Safety & Health Week. The United States has a lot of industry sectors and based off the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 report, the agriculture sector is still the most dangerous with nearly 574 fatalities each year. (Editor’s note – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 453 fatalities in the agriculture sector in 2021.)
The next time you get in a hurry please consider these tips:
Harvest Safety tips: 
1. When moving between fields:
  • Watch for vehicles
  • Turn hazards on and be prepared for reckless drivers
  • Consider pulling off to the side of the road
2. Equipment:
  • Always disengage equipment before going to fix ANY issue!
  • Make sure you leave all guards and shields on equipment
  • Make sure all harvest help is wearing safe clothing
  • Check behind you for equipment and people before backing up
3. Taking care of yourself:
  • If you feel fatigue, stop! Even a 15-minute nap can do wonders.
  • Eat foods and snacks that don’t make you sleepy
4. Have an Emergency Plan:
  • Make sure everyone on the harvest crew knows the plan
  • Who to call when there’s an emergency?
  • Review basic strategies if someone does get hurt.
Harvest is a fun time of year, where you can see what hybrids/varieties did well, what trials outperformed others, and where your hard work paid off and farm income was made. Don’t get complacent and think that every day is going to have the same result and stay alert. Have a great fall and most importantly, stay safe.

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About the Author: Ashley McEwen

Ashley McEwen grew up on a diversified grain and livestock farm near Bushnell, Illinois. Currently she is the assistant vice president and farm manager at First Mid Ag Services in Peoria, Illinois. McEwen is a Certified Crop Adviser and holds a master’s degree in crop science from the University of Illinois. Prior to First Mid Ag Services, McEwen was a key account specialist with AgriGold.

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