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Drivers should be on the lookout for farmers PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, October 25, 2012 1:43 PM

Assistant Professor
Ohio State University Ext.
Putnam County AGNR Extension Educator

After a dry summer, we are starting to get some rain, which is delaying harvest.  Indian summer may be occurring this week as temperatures warm up, which should aid in drying the soil and the crops. Let’s remember to take the time to be safe as we get into full harvest mode.
As people drive around the countryside, be on the lookout for farmers harvesting and hauling their grain. Farmers often park their equipment either on the road or slightly off the road, so visibility may be impaired.  Also, modern farm equipment is so large and wide, farmers often have difficulty seeing, maneuvering, or getting off the road. Drivers may forget how fast they are driving and several accidents occur each year due to the difference in speed between fast-moving vehicles and large slow-moving harvesting equipment.
At this time of year, please have patience with our farmers as they try to get their crops harvested. The harvest period generally only lasts about 30 to 60 days; most farmers get most of their crops harvested in just 1-2 weeks.  So be aware of harvesting activity in the countryside during this busy season.
For farmers, before starting the combine, always do a visual inspection of the machine and the area to look for children, pets, or hazards. Keep the combine clear of debris, crop residues, paper sacks, etc., which could be a fire hazard. Keep a fire extinguisher on board to put out small fires. Keep the windows clean and adjust the mirrors and the seat so that you are comfortable and are properly aware of your surroundings to cut down on accidents (Source:
Combines operate differently than most vehicles since they have large wheels in the front and steer from the back. Both operators and people who are around combines should be aware that combines make wide turns and the rear end swings around fast on self-propelled combines. Operators need to be aware of the braking system since each wheel generally has its own pedal.  Hard or sharp braking may cause the combine to spin or tip over, especially on slight inclines.
A major hazard with combines is the grain auger and unloading grain. The grain unloading auger often sticks out quite a distance from the combine and has been known to get caught on just about anything (telephone poles, grain trucks, tractors or other farm equipment,  buildings, trees, low-hanging wires, etc.); so be aware of what position it is in or where it is at all times. During transport, remember to keep the auger in the closed position close to the combine.
When backing, watch your mirrors and be aware of what is behind you at all times. If you are driving a tractor with wagons, truck or a grain buggy. Never approach a combine from directly behind the tractor because it’s hard for the operator to see you.
If a combine becomes plugged during operation, the rule is to turn it before leaving the combine cab. If you leave the engine running while you are trying to clean or unclog the combine, you may get entangled in the equipment. While inspecting a combine, be aware of all moving parts, especially chains, belts and pinch points. It is easy to maim or lose a finger, thumb, arm, leg or your life when parts are moving on a combine or a grain auger.
The National Farm and Safety Week on Combine Safety ( offers these additional suggestions:
“Straw, stalks and other flying material thrown from choppers can injure nearby people. Make sure everyone is away from the discharge area of the machine before and during operation, especially children. During unloading, use a small shovel or a pole to break up bridging of grain, never use your hands.
“During or preparing for combine transport on highways or crossing a ditch, empty the grain tank to reduce weight and lower the center of gravity. When practical, remove the grain header and transport on a truck or implement carrier. Be sure SMV emblems, reflectors and lighters are in proper working order. Use guide vehicles with flashers and wide-load signs ahead of and behind the combine when transporting with the header attached. (”
Other issues with grain safety are unloading grain from wagons and trucks into pits or into augers for storage in grain bins. Last year, a 10-year-old boy suffocated in Mercer County when his father unloaded the wagon filled with corn. The young boy was playing with his younger brother in the wagon and they were sucked in as the grain was unloaded. The younger brother escaped but the older boy did not. Let’s keep this a safe harvest season.
For more information on farm safety, see our website at and “Google” ohioline for farm safety material. Dr. Dee Jepsen, Farm Safety expert, has a number of farm safety fact sheets available.


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