“Tomorrow: your reward for working safely today.”– Robert Pelton
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agriculture sector is the most dangerous in the country. Each year there are over 573 fatalities within the farming profession, which equals 23 deaths per 100,000 workers. This is an overwhelming statistic, however, as agriculturalists, we know that our industry is needed to put food on tables and keep our world moving. That is why safety in the workplace and in your operation is crucial. We all know that agriculture can be a dangerous occupation, but sometimes we are putting ourselves at risk by simply not practicing safety when we should be. For employees to feel safe within the work environment, it is important to take necessary safety measures to reduce on-site injuries and accidents.
Utilize the following equipment safety guidelines provided by Kevin Hodson, Safety, Fleet, and Risk Manager, to keep yourself and other employees safe in the workplace:
1. Turn equipment off before exiting, making repairs, or adjustments, and remember to not reach into equipment while parts are moving.
2. Do not remove safety shields, roll bars, or guards.
3. Avoid wearing baggy clothing, loose jewelry, or long hair near moving equipment.
4. Use safety glasses, noise protection, and other precautions, including masks, when using chemicals and pesticides.
5. Pay attention to all safety information. Read the operator's manual and warning decals.
6. Inspect the equipment and correct any hazards before operating.
7. Beware of pinch points, shear points, wrap points, pull-in areas, thrown objects, crush points, stored energy hazards, and freewheeling parts.
8. Keep bystanders and others away from the equipment operation area.
9. Have a fire extinguisher readily available that has been inspected and is ready to use.
Vickie Shoutz, the HR Manager at Heartland AG Systems says, “When workers put these practices to work, they help promote employee morale and positive company culture, increase efficiency and productivity, and prevent the cost implications of workplace injuries and illnesses.”
Mental health is another significant form of safety to maintain. "You need to take care of yourself first so you can handle daily stress and be effective in helping others when they need you,” says Hodson. We all know that the busy season calls for efficiency and productivity in the field and workplace. This can bring extra stress and worry that may affect the mental health of farmers or workers. Hodson encourages agricultural workers to prepare themselves physically and mentally for the busy season by getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, exercising, and knocking out lingering tasks, both business and personal, to avoid additional stress.
As a company with over 340 employees, we must focus on their safety and needs to be successful. A well-cared-for workforce environment leads to higher overall productivity and a more positive workplace. “At Heartland AG Systems, our supervisors are expected to have regular communication with employees, whether that is once or several times a day,” says Arnie Sinclair, President of Heartland AG Systems. “We have quarterly company safety meetings with our Safety, Fleet, and Risk Manager and all locations have a representative on our safety committee.” One example of our safety measures is the purchase and installation of a welding gun fume extractor on all our welding guns. This is for the protection of our welders and manufacturing employees. We also encourage hydration by providing Gatorade and water to employees on extremely hot days. Our goal is to continue to make Heartland AG Systems a safe and enjoyable place for our employees.
We value our work and strive daily to bring customers quality equipment and rely on our employees to make that happen. Heartland AG Systems keeps safety a high priority because, at the end of each day, having the assurance that our employees will return home safely is our number one goal.