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By Mark Othmer, Nebraska Field Director [marko@ineda.com]

Is winter over yet? I certainly hope so, as every year it seems to be a little harder for me to handle cold weather and strong winds. Hopefully the spring wind will blow in some rain from the south, as it has been a very dry winter. Water is the lifeblood of crops on the plains, and it’s always concerning to start the growing season short on moisture.

Keep safety in your mind

As folks begin moving farm equipment to the field, we should always help our customers keep safety at the forefront of their mind. It’s easy to get in a hurry and forget to complete critical safety tasks. One thing I see overlooked on a daily basis is lock-outs on hydraulic cylinders when farmers and technicians are working on machinery.

One ruptured hose on even a small piece of equipment can cause serious injury and even death, so techs must be careful while servicing equipment. Either install lock-outs to ensure a machine cannot fall to the ground, or—better yet—complete the service work with the tractor engine turned off and all hydraulic pressure relieved from the hoses in order to settle the equipment on the ground.

Modern equipment design makes safety awareness much more effortless, but unfortunately it also makes safety easier to overlook. Late model tractors now automatically disengage power take-offs when the operator leaves the tractor seat. It’s unfortunate that the occasional owner/operator will find ways to override some safety switches in order to continue running a tractor without someone at the controls. This situation is asking for a disaster to happen. If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to see the results of an entanglement in a PTO, it’s a stark reminder to never compromise safety switches on equipment. I’ve had the misfortune of visiting customers in the hospital twice because of lack of respect for an operating PTO. Thankfully, I was able to visit them in the hospital, as both people survived. More often than not, you’d be attending a funeral with this type of disaster.

Look out above!

Usually you hear the saying “Look out below!,” but my friends at the Nebraska Rural Electrification Association (NREA) are asking that we remind our members and their customers to be aware of overhead electrical lines. As equipment continues to get larger, wider, and especially taller, awareness of overhead power lines while in transport is a necessity. Every year in Nebraska, serious injury occurs due to equipment contact with overhead power lines. Please keep this in mind as you transport or haul equipment. Equipment hauled on a trailer or truck is much more vulnerable to coming in contact with overhead power transmission lines.

And try to stay fresh!

Modern equipment is much more comfortable to operate for longer hours, and farmers continually take advantage of that. While it may seem like farmers are staying awake and aware of potential safety issues, the longer famers continuously operate a machine increases the probability of an accident occurring. Please remind your customers that a well-rested equipment operator is a safe equipment operator; nobody wants to experience a farm accident. All this advanced technology is there for a reason—to help farmers accomplish more in a day than ever before—and the long hours might not be as necessary as they think.