Ontario Agriculture

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Farm Safety is no accident.  Long hours and heavy equipment make for the best conditions to have accidents happen, but they don't have to.  This time of the year, well in advance of spring work is the perfect time to plan for the coming year, and SAFETY should be a big part of that plan.  It is very easy to convince yourself "it won't happen to me" and you may even think theres nothing that can be done in advance, but I'll say your wrong if thats your approach to a safe farm.

Had a close call last summer that illustrates the situation well.  I was in a hurry to hook up to an old three furrow plough to finish off the corners and around some utility towers in the wheat field.  The problem with the plough was the hitch pins were too short for my tractor, so I had to lock the three point hitch bars in place to sandwich the plough into place.  I had changed out one of the pins, but the second is part of a weldment and can't be replaced without cutting off the old one and welding a new pin in place.  Since this repair/modification would take a good part of a day and a access to a lathe, I didn't bother.  

Fortunately I wear steel toed boots/shoes almost all the time.  While hooking onto the plough, and struggling to latch in the stabilizer links on the three point hitch, the plough fell onto my foot.  Had I not been wearing those safety shoes, I would have three less toes today.  The shank came down squarely across my shoe and rolled onto my foot.  The pinch behind the steel toe was enough to break a toe bone and cut through the skin.  Also fortunately I was strong enough to lift the plough off my foot to get free.

This is no story of how proper safety equipment saved a trip to hospital, but rather a warning for all the things I neglected and missed.  Who knew I was hooking up equipment to even look for me if I was in trouble?  Why didn't I have my cell phone handy when working alone? Why did I not ask for help from my wife for the few minutes it would take?  And why didn't i fix this issue last winter, I knew it had to be done.  The entire situation was avoidable.

Now think back to those quick fixes you made in the field to get the job done, have you gone back over that equipment to finish the repair.  I am no saint when it comes to this, that pair of vise-grips clamped on the the adjustment thread for the one wheel of the cultivator is still there.  What will happen when that finally falls off, if I'm lucky I will work some ground a bit too deep or shallow, if I am less lucky while walking by the wheel will swing down and strike me.  Its a trip to the hardware store for a nut and 5 minutes to fix.  But when spring comes, its time to be in the field, not driving around looking for nuts and bolts.  

I will do myself a big favour and walk around my equipment over the next few weeks.  My goal, fix one issue every weekend.  At that rate, come spring all the little issues will be taken care of, and although the safety shoes will still be worn, I won't be planning on relying them.  If something looks dangerous, it probably is, take the time to make it safe when have the time, then you won't put yourself at risk, for no reason, later. 

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