Spring Farm Safety: Simple steps to keep people safe on the farm

Published 8:00 pm Friday, April 24, 2020

Spring Farm Safety by Katie Pestorious

Katie Pestorious


Life is different for everyone during this unprecedented time, and especially so for our farming community. Each subset of our community is treading a new tide and finding new norms. I will not presume to speak for every farm family, as we are not all the same. But I can share our family’s experiences during this time.

Safety on the farm has never been more paramount. We are spending every second, every day together at the house and farm. With this increased presence, comes increased risk. And it is very important that we recognize the dangers and wonders of our farm with our children.

It can be extremely fun to help Mom and Dad with the preparation activities as we get ready for spring planting. There is certainly a sense of pride in being a part of all the prep. There is also a responsibility for safety — not as fun but equally necessary.

For the past five years, I’ve been leading the FFA alumni cavalry in preparing and executing an Agriculture Safety Day for our area youth. This is a true passion of mine and of the alumni association’s officers. Not acknowledging dangers on the farm (and in the home) is like ignoring safety warnings on everyday household items, such as not putting a fork or metal object in an electrical outlet. It’s common sense to so many, but to others it’s a foreign idea

My point here is that every environment needs to be known to those living within it. Especially when farm equipment, grain bins and PTO shafts are involved. So, what do we do — and suggest that others do — to educate our children and visitors (now few) on the farm regarding safety? Well, we start with posted warnings and we follow-up with firm direction.

We post warnings wherever possible in visible areas, such as at our bin sites, within our tractor cabs and around other areas of the farm. We also teach our children to read and understand the warnings on every piece of equipment  they come into contact with — from the Polaris Ranger, John Deere Gator, to the cab of a tractor. Their understanding of proper operation, simply as riders, not necessarily as operators, ensures safety on our farm. The more we know and learn about the safe operation of vehicles, the better.

We also wear safety vests when we’re in the presence of machinery operators or anywhere on the farm ground. Being a responsible bystander is just as important as being a responsible operator.

When push comes to shove, it’s simple steps that keep us all safe. Know your surroundings, know your limitations, acknowledge dangers and steer clear of uncomfortable situations. Be prepared or do not participate.

If your family wants to explore farm safety principles, I recommend you visit https://www.mda.state.mn.us/minnesota-farm-safety and review the basics — but most importantly, find the right mix of safety for your specific operation.