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Focus on Safety

March 28, 2009
By: Sara Brown, Farm Journal Livestock and Production Editor

Safety on the farm is a year-round worry. Hazards are everywhere, and livestock operations often carry the most risk—so much so that equipment companies are making an effort to promote equipment safety with livestock producers.

At the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's annual convention this past January in Phoenix, Ariz., equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. hosted skid-steer safety sessions for producers of all ages. Outside the trade show, Caterpillar staff gave adults an opportunity to run new skid steers, while local Caterpillar dealers led safety training for youth.

Tony Newlin and Craig Reidhead, training services representatives at the Empire dealership in Mesa, Ariz., led many of the youth attending the show in a walk-around safety explanation of Caterpillar skid-steer machines.

"Most accidents happen from trips and falls. That's why we have safety steps—to prevent those accidents from happening,” Reidhead said.

The second most common cause of skid-steer accidents is operator error. "Any time you make direction changes, ease into a stop before going forward or reverse. You don't want to operate this machine without putting on a safety belt, either” Newlin said.

Smaller operators should move the safety arms further in by adjusting the dial on the side of the seat. A dial under the seat adjusts the rider's seat suspension by weight.

Other safety rules include:

1. Wear your seat belt. Seat belts protect the operator in a collision, but they also keep the operator inside the cab's rollover protection structure. Farm machinery is more likely to be involved in rollover accidents than collisions due to changing terrain.

2. Properly enter and exit skid steer. Never mount or exit a moving machine. Keep contact areas clear of mud and debris, and make sure all steps and handrails are secure and the area is properly lit. Maintain three points of contact when moving on or off equipment. (Either one hand and two feet or two hands and one foot should be on the steps and handrail.) Do not use steering controls as handholds when entering or exiting.

3. Make the shop safe. Use all safety locks, and keep guards and shields in place. Make sure you have proper lighting and the necessary safety equipment in stock. Wear eye protection.

4. Handle grain properly. Train workers to not wear loose, unbuttoned or torn clothing. Lock entrances to grainhandling areas, and label facilities to warn of entrapment hazards.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - Early Spring 2009

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