Every year since 1944, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a proclamation, the third week of September has been dedicated to National Farm Safety & Health Week. The recognition week is designed to educate farmers and help prevent injuries that occur on the farm.
Whether you’ve been harvesting for a lifetime, or 2015 marks your first time in the combine, remember: Safety first. “You’ve spent an entire year getting your crop from planting to harvest. Naturally you’re excited to get it out of the field as quickly as you can,” says Kelly Kravig, platform marketing manager for combines and headers at Case IH North America.
“But sleep deprivation is a real problem. Combine accidents can happen because guys get tired and aren’t paying attention. So get enough rest, slow down, and think about what you’re doing.”
Statistics back up Kravig’s suggestions. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Association, agriculture ranks among the most dangerous industries. Every day, about 243 agricultural workers suffer a serious lost-work-time injury.
Kravig also recommends daily combine inspections during harvest. “When you’re checking your oil and fluid levels, you should also clean out trash and debris so it’s not building up. Make sure the fire extinguishers are fully charged. And check the shields on the belts, pulleys and chains. There’s a good reason they’re shielded.”
Another Kravig recommendation: Check the torque on your wheel bolts. “With the size of today’s combines, there’s a lot of weight on the tires and rims – especially in muddy conditions. If the bolts weren’t fully torqued initially, they may loosen a little bit. At the ProHarvest Kickoff, we show custom harvesting crews how to put a little mark on the bolt with a Sharpie® so they can see if the bolt has moved.”
More tips from custom harvester safety training
For 30 years, Case IH has been supporting custom harvesters through its ProHarvest program, where Case IH service pros stock up on parts and follow custom cutters from the Texas/Oklahoma border up to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. At the ProHarvest Kickoff – held every spring at the Great Plains Technical College in Frederick, Oklahoma, just before harvest begins – Case IH holds a half-day combine training for custom cutter crews.
“We have the same custom harvesters, but 70 to 80 percent of crew members are new every year, and many are new to combines,” Kravig adds. “They’re also young, between 18 and 25 years old.”
Kravig and other ProHarvest instructors cover everything from who to contact in an emergency, to properly attaching a header, to honking three times before you start a combine. (This alerts anyone who may be working on your machine that you’re about to start it.)
Another training topic is how to pull a stuck combine out of a muddy field. “We show them the proper attachment points on the chassis, and why they need to stay away from the tow ropes.
“ProHarvest training reinforces what custom harvesters are telling their crews about the importance of taking proper precautions. And it’s non-denominational training,” Kravig says. “We want you to combine safely, no matter what color combine you operate.”
In addition to helping keep harvest season safe and productive, Case IH has also partnered with Farm Bureau to save members’ money. Virginia Farm Bureau members save $500 per unit on Case IH Maxxum® tractors, Farmall® C and U series utility and 100A series tractors, self-propelled windrowers and large square balers. A $300 per unit incentive is available for Case IH compact Farmall® B and C series tractors, Case IH Scout® utility vehicles and other hay tools, including round balers, small square balers, disc mower conditioners and sickle mower conditioners. Combine the Farm Bureau incentive with other discounts, promotions, rebates, or offers that may be available from Case IH or your Case IH dealer.