Planting Season Preparation and Safety
Planting season is coming. It’s time to review fire safety procedures.
Getting ready for planting involves a number fire safety factors. These include planning, people and equipment, and emergency preparations. Farming is considered one of the most dangerous professions. Practicing safety precautions can reduce risk, especially from fire.
Planning the task.
Having a plan and checklist of what to do makes the preparation for planting a safer and fire free project. Everyone involved should be “on the same page” as far as who is doing what and what it involves. Coordination and communication make the task safer and more efficient.
People: protecting the workers.
When children or other family members are involved, tasks should be assigned according to age, maturity and physical capabilities. Children should not work alone but with a more mature partner; they should also be instructed about safety procedures and given adequate rest periods. Being healthy is important as well since illness, colds and fatigue have serious effects on judgment and decision making. Many cold and flu medications cause drowsiness as well and inhibit the thinking process and reaction times. Bad decisions cause accidents and injuries. Drinking sufficient water, regular breaks and proper food will make sure everyone is alert, awake and staying safe. Obviously no alcohol should be consumed either, save that for day’s end relaxation. No one should ride outside a vehicle, in a truck bed or on a piece of equipment where no passenger accommodations (seatbelt etc.) are supplied. Hardhats, eye protection, and gloves should be available for tasks that require working with equipment.
Equipment: inspect, repair and preventive maintenance to reduce risk.
Depending on the layout of the property and acreage, large equipment will be transported on public roads. Inspection and preventative maintenance of the hauling equipment, the equipment itself, and securing devices is important. Visible signage for wide loads and lighting is necessary as well; not every driver respects farm machinery. Special attention to fuel lines and fuel tanks will prevent leaks and other causes of fire. Checking for rust and breaks in metal seams should be done so that no ruptures occur when fuel is added. Check electrical connections, batteries and any other ignition sources to make sure they are in safe condition. Fire extinguishers should be a part of every moving vehicle or farm equipment’s drivers’ compartment. Being able to extinguish a fire as soon as it starts can save lives and property. Storing fuel properly and away from structures or other flammable items is critical to safety. Equipment that is parked during lunch breaks or at the end of the work day should be parked away from structures and any combustible materials. If any welding or type of repair involving a flame or spark is to be done, fuel tanks should be drained and ventilated, and the work should be done in a safe area.
Consider having a yearly fire safety inspection by the local fire department. They can spot problems you may have missed. Let them know where your emergency water supply, circuit breakers and toxic chemicals/materials are stored as well. Some chemicals used on farms are toxic and can explode when mixed. If any are stored on the property, follow the instruction labels (hazardous, flammable etc.) for handling and storage. Some can react explosively if combined and removing residue from previous use will prevent contamination. Avoid live flames and heated metal when dealing with fuels and chemicals.
Be prepared for a fire emergency with training and communication.
Each worker should know what is being done, and communicate when any problems occur. First Aid kits should be available and someone should be up to date on CPR. Everyone should know how to operate a fire extinguisher and act immediately to put the fire out safely. By the nature of the work, farms have many opportunities for fires to occur, especially during preparations for planting. Planning, personnel who are trained and ready, inspection and preventative maintenance reduce risk. Getting ready to plant is a fairly complex task, but a fire can complicate it beyond reality. Making fire safety a priority makes for a successful growing season and bountiful harvest.