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Farmers anxious to get in the fields, reminded to put safety first

COUNTRY Financial® offers safety tips for farmers and drivers

March 16, 2016

As the spring planting season gets underway, farmers and drivers may need to be reminded of the hazards that exist in fields and on roadways. Both farmers and drivers will need to adjust to having large, slow-moving agricultural equipment on rural highways and county roads once more. 

During planting season, farmers work long hours. While some farmers may have already started planting, others whose crops are insured under the Federal Crop Insurance Program follow specific deadlines for getting corn and soybeans into the ground. The dates are provided by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). They vary by state and county.

The following links show Illinois county maps and dates for each crop:

“Farmers are anxious to get back into their fields and get the job done. They’re working on tight deadlines, but they need to remember to take care of themselves and others in the process,” said Eric Vanasdale, senior loss control representative for COUNTRY Financial®. “Accidents happen when you’re tired, distracted and rushed. Farmers need to be on alert all hours of the day in order to keep themselves and other drivers safe.”

Six considerations for farmers 

1. Get plenty of rest and take frequent breaks. Drink plenty of fluids and have healthy snacks on hand. Accidents are more likely to occur once fatigue sets in.

2. Be familiar with how prescriptions and over the counter medications affect reaction time. Some medications and machinery do not mix. Consult your doctor if your medications impair your ability to safely operate your equipment.

3. Tell family and helping hands where you will be working and when. Also, have a cell phone on you at all times in case of emergencies or accidents.

4. Avoid driving machinery on roads at dawn and dusk. Vision is most challenged and most accidents happen during these times of day. They’re also peak commuting times for drivers heading to and from work.

5. Maintain your equipment. Most farm accidents and deaths involve machinery. Make sure your equipment is maintained according to the manufacturers’ recommendations.

6. Know your limitations. Don't push your mind and body past safe and healthy limits.

“Because most farm equipment has been sitting since last fall, farmers may also want to review equipment manuals and inspect their equipment lights to make sure turn signals, flashers and lights work properly,” said Vanasdale. “Safety reflective tape and slow-moving vehicle emblems should also be cleaned so they’re more visible to drivers.”

Recommendations for drivers 

Drivers should remember to decrease their speed and approach farm equipment with care. They
should obey the Rules of the Road. It is illegal and dangerous to pass farm equipment in a no passing zone. Also, farm equipment may be wider than what is visible from behind and it may be difficult to see if traffic is approaching in the opposite direction. The key to safety when sharing the road with farm equipment is to take caution and have patience.

We hope these suggestions give you a good start to making sure you’re doing all you can to keep your community safe this planting season. For more farm safety tips, review COUNTRY Financial Farm Safety Checklists at www.countryfinancial.com or www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @helloCOUNTRY.