Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Be Safe On the Road and at Work During the Fall Harvest Season in Minnesota

According to federal and state statistics, farming is one of the most dangerous professions. Last year, 18 of the 60 work-related deaths in Minnesota were in the agricultural industry.

In addition to work-related injuries, roadways during harvest season are also particularly dangerous, as equipment is transported and harvests are hauled in from fields. In Minnesota in 2009, there were 156 car accidents that involved a crash with a tractor or other farm equipment, which resulted in 29 injuries and three deaths.

From the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, here are some tips to avoid accidents during harvest season:

Safety on the Road:

Three deaths and 29 injuries occurred on Minnesota roads in 2009 as a result of motor vehicle crashes involving farm equipment.

For people living or driving in rural areas:
  •  Be on the look out for farm equipment;
  • Slow down when encountering slow moving vehicles;
  • Wait for a safe place to pass; and
  • Avoid using a cell phone while driving.
For farmers and agricultural workers:
  • Make yourself easy to be seen by using lights and flashers;
  • Use slow moving vehicle emblems on vehicles traveling less than 30 miles per hour; and
  • Consider using a follow vehicle when moving large equipment on roadways.
Equipment safety:

Farm equipment is powerful, heavy, and can be very dangerous.
  • Pay attention to all safety information on your equipment;
  • Inspect and repair any hazards before operating;
  • Identify hazardous areas on equipment, and make sure to stay away from moving parts.
  • Be aware of pinch points, shear points, wrap points, pull-in areas, thrown objects, crush points, stored energy hazards, and exposed moving parts;
  • Shut down equipment, turn off the engine, remove the key, and wait for moving parts to stop before dismounting equipment; and
  • Keep bystanders away from equipment operation areas.
Grain handling safety:

Grain handling accidents, often involving grain bin entrapment, can be catastrophic.
  • Lock entrances to grain handling areas to keep bystanders out;
  • Install ladders inside bins;
  • Do not enter grain bins that are being loaded or unloaded;
  • Shut off and lockout power before entering a bin. Use a safety harness and safety line. Have several people available to lift the entrant out in case of an emergency; and
  • Wear proper respirators when working in and around grain handling areas.
Livestock handling safety:

Last year, in Minnesota, there were seven fatalities involving livestock handling.
  • Label livestock handling areas to warn away visitors;
  • Design livestock pens and handling facilities according to manufacturer recommendations;
  • Facilities should be designed to allow workers easy access to and away from animals;
  • Keep bystanders away from livestock handling areas; and
  • Understand the common instincts of animals to avoid predictable dangerous behaviors.
Under Minnesota workers’ compensation law, certain farm laborers are excluded from workers’ compensation coverage. Family farms are excluded from mandatory coverage. A family farm is defined as a 1) farm operation paying less than $8,000.00 per year in cash wages to farm laborers in the previous calendar year; or 2) a farm operation that pays carries $300,000.00 and $5,000.00 under a farm liability and medical payment policy, that paid less than the statewide average annual wage to laborers in the previous calendar year.

If you sustained injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident involving farm equipment, or if you were injured while performing agricultural work, contact Meuser & Associates at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email for a free, no-obligation consultation. Speak with one of our lawyers to learn about your Minnesota personal injury or workers’ compensation rights.
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