Save Time & Money When You Know About Operating Farm Machinery Correctly
Date Posted: 28 July 2022
When it comes to operating farm machinery, it can be tempting to cut corners and skip safety measures to make your life easier in the short-term. You might be less cautious because you’re under a time crunch, or because you’ve done the task a million times before, but it is crucial that you don’t fall into this trap. Becoming casual or complacent about safety measures is extremely dangerous. Even if nothing goes catastrophically wrong, it is still easy to derail your progress and burden yourself or your coworkers with extra work. The stakes are incredibly high with heavy machinery, and the consequences of making a mistake can be huge.
If you consistently operate your farm machinery safely and effectively, you will experience several key benefits.
Why You Should Learn How to Operate Machinery Safely & Effectively
Save Time & Money
When you take care of your machinery and carry out regular maintenance and upkeep, they tend to last much longer. You are also less likely to have issues with your machinery throughout its lifespan and more likely to catch issues early on if they do occur. This is because discovering an issue with your machinery in its early stages can prevent it from getting worse and damaging surrounding components. You’ll therefore have less need for replacement parts or whole new products, and will save significant money on these expenses.
If your farm machinery is sufficiently cared for, it will operate efficiently and allow you to complete your tasks quicker than if it was worn from misuse. Depending on the specific work that you do, this might mean being able to take on more work or having more downtime. It could even mean greater general success with your crops or animals. Maintaining your farm machinery means getting the most out of yout machinery, and this will save you both time and money in the long term.
Protect Yourself, Your Family & Your Livestock
In Victoria, farms make up 10% of the workforce, but contribute between 25–50% of all work-related deaths in any given year. Farm machinery is dangerous, and it is absolutely essential that you take safety measures seriously in the operation of your farm. Without a doubt, the biggest benefit to practising safety with your machinery is that it protects you, your loved ones and your livestock. Once you’ve taught your children strict rules in regards to machinery and done all the recommended things to protect them, you can focus on doing the work and enjoying the process. Sharing these kinds of activities with your family and raising children on a farm can be wonderful, so long as your exercise caution.
As an added bonus, teaching your children good habits for the safe operation of farm machinery means that as they grow up, these tasks will become second nature to them. If they decide to work in a similar field, they will enter the workforce fully equipped with knowledge on safe practices. This is especially valuable when you consider how many workplace accidents involve young people who have just entered the workplace.
Avoid Damaging Crops & Ruining a Harvest
Crops are already fairly sensitive, and farmers are often at the mercy of weather conditions to determine the kind of year they’re going to have. When your livelihood can be seriously affected by things that are out of your control, the last thing you want to do is risk making the situation worse with factors that you can control. It’s important to maintain your machinery because sometimes, when elements of the machine are faulty or worse for wear, you can actually inflict significant damage onto your crops.
Tips for the Effective & Efficient Use of Farm Machinery
Getting the most out of your farm machinery is crucial for ensuring time and money well spent. Luckily, we have plenty of tips to get you started. While we’ll talk about tractors specifically with these tips, bear in mind that many of these tips, if not all, apply to just about any agricultural machinery you could be working with.
Choose the Appropriate Tool for the Job
When you are investing in a significant piece of farm machinery, it is important you select the most appropriate tool for the job. If you’re looking at purchasing a tractor, for example, consider which features are non-negotiable for the job you have in mind. Do you need a 4WD or will a 2WD tractor do the trick? Will the tractor need additional traction and therefore extra wheels? Is a posi-track tractor required or a tracked tractor? Generally, the size of a tractor will determine the tasks it is best suited to completing. For instance, choose a small tractor for backyard use and minor tasks such as mowing.
Regularly Check Your Farm Machinery for Problems
Checking your machinery on a regular basis is crucial for both safety and optimal functionality. This practice ensures that your machinery is always operating at its best and that no component of it is faulty. Keep in mind that while faults can seem minor at first, they can eventually cause large and potentially dangerous issues.
When conducting routine checks on tractors, make sure to look at levers, breaks, safety switches, hazard lights, indicators, PTO shields and neutral start switches. You should also inspect the body of your tractor for any damages, as well as the tracks or tyres. Tyres should have a satisfactory pressure and tread, and they should also be inspected for wear, damage and air leaks. If your tractor has tracks, make sure there are no loose fittings. You should also check that there are no leaks from the tractor or its hydraulic system. To do this, you can observe the ground around the tractor or park under the chassis. Finally, remember to check the tractor’s safety features. For instance the seat belts should have a distinct tension.
Maintain Your Farm Machinery Regularly or Face the Costs
It isn’t enough to simply check your machinery for faults. Once you have identified a problem, you need to fix it right away — before it worsens and becomes even more of a safety hazard. You should also practise general upkeep to prevent the development of faults, or at least to delay inevitable wear-and-tear. Some things you should do to maintain your tractor include periodically greasing any mechanical joints, ensuring fluid levels are where they should be and cleaning the radiator.
Tips for Using Heavy Farm Machinery Safely
Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
No matter what your role is on the farm, you will require some form of PPE. This could include items for sun protection or high-visibility clothing if you operate around dusk and dawn, or even at night. You might require protective goggles, face shields, earplugs, hard hats, respirators, full body suits and even specialist boots for foot protection. Do your research and get yourself some good-quality protective gear. This will go a long way for minimising the risks of working with your farm machinery. For instance, wearing a face shield while using a boom sprayer is important for protecting yourself from pesticides.
Only Use Farm Machinery if You’re Trained
If you are running a business, you are responsible for the health and safety of your employees and visitors. To sufficiently fulfil this duty, you must be prepared to insist that workers undertake training courses for specific pieces of machinery. Once they are trained, you should still be warning them of potential hazards and checking to see if they are confident in handling the machinery. So, while these workers are still inexperienced, you should be supervising at all times. Also, remember to inform employees of safety procedures relating to specific machinery. With tractors, for example, it is a good idea to wait to turn the engine on until after the driver is in the driver’s seat and no one else is standing nearby.
Draw Up a Safety Plan for Emergencies
Even when used correctly, farm machinery can lead to accidents. So, if you want to run a safe and hazard-free farm, being prepared is important. Take the time to sit down and draw up a safety plan. Accumulate a list of emergency numbers and addresses and leave it in a visible and convenient place, such as by a landline if you have one. Plan routes to the nearest hospital and familiarise yourself with the trek. Invest in at least one high-quality first aid kit and place it somewhere accessible. You should also make sure that at least one person on the farm is trained in first aid, should it ever come up.
Once you have established a safety plan, share it with your employees, coworkers, families and anyone who frequents the property. Remember, it is important that any children spending time on the farm know exactly what to do in an emergency.
Invest in High-Quality Farm Machinery & Equipment
Going for the best possible price isn’t always a winning idea, especially when it comes to serious farm machinery. You should never cheap out on important and potentially dangerous items. So, make sure you get your farm machinery and equipment from a reliable source who knows the industry and is familiar with farming practices. Bunyip Equipment, for example, is a well-loved and trusted Aussie company who have a wealth of knowledge in the area of farm equipment. Browse the Bunyip Equipment online store today for good-quality farm machinery at affordable prices.