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Safety Village of South Dakota

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Safety Information

Farm & AgricultureFarm & Agriculture



Farm Facts

Farm machinery causes 85% of all machinery-related deaths to children, most could have been prevented.

Animal Safety

Livestock Safety Overview

Although most animal accidents are not fatal, many men, women and children are needlessly injured each year because of a lack of safety awareness.

Maintain Safe Facilities 

  1. Safe Facilities – Good facilities provide a means of controlling animals while allowing easy access for routine chores – all in a safe environment.
  2. Keep walk and work surfaces properly lighted and clear of debris and obstructions.

Avoid Exposure to Electric Shock

  1. Use a ground fault circuit interrupter with water heaters, power tools and other equipment.
    • Use moisture-proof fuse boxes, switches and electrical outlets in wet or damp areas.
    • Never use homemade electric fence controllers, only those approved by a recognized testing agency such as Underwriter Laboratory.
    • Use splash guards in elevated milking parlors.

Always Be Prepared

  1. Wear Protective Clothing: Safety precautions include using personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, gloves, long trousers, steel-toed shoes or boots, shin guards and a hard hat, depending on the activity and type of livestock being handled.
  2. Plan Ahead: Most animal-related accidents are the result of ‘people problems’. Poor judgment and lack of understanding are major causes of accidents involving animals. Plan ahead to allow plenty of time to move animals, so there is no need to hurry. Do not try to manhandle animals when you are angry.

Child Safety

Protect Your Children on the Farm

Farm-related injuries occur while children are both at play and at work. Children perform a lot of duties on farms and are a valuable resource, but children working on farms have a high rate of injury. Proper safety training can minimize the risk of injury to your child.

To a child, a grain bin is a fascinating and adventurous place. However, many of these adventures have tragic endings. Children on their own cannot recognize farm hazards. They must be taught how to recognize farm dangers and how to avoid them.

Discuss the Following Dangers with Children:

  • Animal Behavior
  • Grain Bins – The weight and force of grain can crush and kill a person.
  • Silage Gas – The harmful gases released by manure and silage can be dangerous.
  • Electricity – The threat is outside and in the home.
  • Chemicals and Pesticides – Eaten, inhaled or even being touched is life threatening.
  • Farm Equipment – Riding and playing on equipment causes many deaths in children every year.
  • Encourage Children to Ask Questions – Young children are curious and learn primarily by touch and sight. Many times these two senses put a child into a dangerous situation. For example, fascination with a quickly moving PTO can result in disaster.

Farm Hazards – It’s Your Responsibility

Parents and grandparents should use precautionary safety measures to prevent accidents. They can set and enforce safe limits and be good role models for children by promoting farm safety.

Ways To Keep Children Safe:

  • Children should not be extra riders on equipment.
  • Children should not play with idle machinery.
  • Equipment that might fall, such as front-end loaders, should be left in the down position.
  • When parked, self-propelled machinery should be locked and keys removed from the ignition.
  • A tractor PTO should be in neutral when not in use.
  • Know where children are whenever starting machinery, and especially when backing up equipment.
  • Machinery should be kept in good repair, particularly protective shields, ROPS, and seat belts.
  • Children should not operate machinery until they complete safety training.
  • All ATV riders should wear helmets.
  • Farm ponds and manure pits should be fenced.
  • Fixed ladders should be out of reach, or fit with a special barrier.
  • Portable ladders should be kept away from danger areas such as grain wagons and silos.
  • Dangerous machinery components should be kept out of reach of small children.
  • Electrical boxes should be kept locked.
  • Warning decals recognizable to children should be on all grain bins, wagons, silos, barns, and trucks.
  • Chemicals and pesticides should be stored in a locked area.
  • All equipment used on roads should have working lights, reflectors and a slow-moving vehicle emblem.
  • Set regular times for family safety instructions (for example, monthly family safety days).

Use Curiosity to Teach Children About Farm Hazards

  • Bright safety emblems can be used as flash cards to teach children farm hazards.
  • Models of farm equipment can also be used to demonstrate and prevent possible accidents.

Grain Bin Accidents

Grain Bin Safety

Every day, about 228 agricultural workers suffer lost-work-time injuries, and about 5% of these result in permanent impairment, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Grain Bin Accidents

People can become caught or trapped in grain in three different ways: the collapse of bridged grain, the collapse of a vertical wall of grain, and entrapment in flowing grain. Moving or flowing grain is involved in all three. People who work with grain – loading it, unloading it, and moving it from bin to bin – need to know about the hazards of flowing grain and how to prevent a grain entrapment situation.

Grain Bin Hazards

  • The Collapse of Bridged Grain: Grain can become bridged when it is moldy, high in moisture content, frozen or in poor condition. The kernels stick together and form a crust which may be self-supporting. This gives a false indication that it is safe to stand on the surface of the grain. The worker cannot tell if there is grain under the crust or not. A hollow cavity will form under crusted grain when some of the grain has been removed from the bin. As the person walks onto the grain, the bridge of crusted grain will collapse. The victim instantly falls into the cavity along with the grain and is usually buried under several feet of grain. It is very difficult to determine exactly where the victim is.
  • Collapse of a Vertical Mass of Grain: Grain can ‘set up’ in a large mass against the bin wall or in various formations when it has been stored while in poor condition. The mass of grain can collapse and ‘avalanche’ down on workers who attempt to break it loose with shovels or other objects. There will be no warning when it breaks loose and cascades down. The impact will knock workers off their feet, burying them in various positions and bury them almost instantly. If secondary avalanches are possible, it will be very risky for rescue personnel to dig out the worker. The rest of the grain will have to be stabilized or knocked down so it is safe for rescue personnel to work.
  • Flowing Grain: Flowing grain will not support the weight of a person. It will pull a person down and into the grain mass as it flows. The ‘suction’ action is strong enough that a person cannot ‘swim,’ climb, or walk against it and get out. As grain flows out of a bin the victim will be pulled down and under very quickly with little or no time to react. Flowing grain can exert a tremendous pull on a body caught in the flow. You will be helpless within three to four seconds and in 20 seconds or less, you can be completely buried.

Machinery Safety 

Hazard Points on Machinery:

  • Pinch Points are found wherever two pieces of machinery move together and at least one of them moves in a circle. One example of a pinch point is where a drive belt contacts a pulley wheel. When your hand is near one of these areas, the drive belt can force your hand into the pulley.
  • Wrap Points involve a part of the machine spinning at high speeds. A Power Take-Off Shaft (commonly called a PTO) is the main cause for these kinds of injuries. You should never go near a piece of machinery that has a PTO running. A frayed shirt, loose clothing, or long hair can be caught or wrapped up in the PTO shaft.
  • Cut Points can be found where two moving edges slide across one another, or a single edge slides across a stationary edge. Mowers, combine heads, and forage choppers are examples of machinery that have cut points. Most machinery does not have to be moving for you to be injured. The edges are very sharp so they can cut grain, grass or hay. You can be injured by falling onto the combine header, hay mower or rotary mower. Grain augers are used to move small grains, like corn or soybeans, from gravity wagons to storage bins.
  • Crush Points injure people when a part of the body is squashed between two pieces of moving equipment. Sometimes only one piece of equipment has to be moving. For example, you can be caught between the tractor and the piece of machinery you are helping to hitch. It is possible to be crushed between the ground and a piece of hydraulically controlled equipment that has suddenly lost pressure. Another common crush injury happens when you roll a piece of equipment (like a garden mower or All-Terrain Vehicle) on top of yourself while operating on a steep hill.

Lawn Mower Safety

Tractors, including lawn mowers, are the #1 cause of fatalities on the farm.

Operate Your Mower Safely

Power mowers can be dangerous and cause serious injury. Become familiar with your equipment, use good judgment, and be safety minded.

Lawn Mowers Safety Recommendations:

  • Read the Operator’s Manual for safety instructions.
  • Pick Up Debris before each mowing.
  • Keep Children and Pets Away a safe distance from mower.
  • Keep Feet and Hands Away from blades when starting and running engine.
  • Wear Sturdy Shoes and Long Pants.
  • Operate Mower at a Slow Speed.
  • Always Push Mower rather than pull it toward you.
  • Watch Your Footing on slopes and wet grass.
  • Shut Off Engine – Don’t leave the engine running unattended. Refuel the engine only when it is shut off and cool.
  • Wear Goggles when operating cord trimmers and power edgers.
  • Stop Engine and Disconnect Spark Plug Wire before working on engine or blade.
  • Maintain Mower – Keep mower in good repair and adjustment.

Pesticides & Chemical Tips

Dispose Pesticide Containers Properly

Properly cleaned pesticide containers may be disposed of in an approved landfill. Most clean plastic pesticide containers can be recycled. Even though plastic caps and label sleeves will not be recycled, leave them on until they are accepted.

Properly Rinse Containers

Since rinsing containers is mandated by law, the pesticide label will give directions for the proper rinsing procedure. There generally are two accepted methods: triple rinsing and pressure rinsing. Studies have shown that proper, triple rinsing or pressure rinsing will remove over 99% of the pesticide residue in the container. A properly cleaned container should have no residue remaining on the inside or outside of the container. Be sure to carefully inspect the threads, handles, and in some cases the area under the plastic label sleeve for residues.

Triple Rinse

  • Empty the container and let it drain into the sprayer for 30 seconds.
  • Fill the empty container about 1/5 full of water and replace the cap securely.
  • Shake adequately to rinse all areas of container.
  • Pay special attention to the hollow handle on most containers.
  • Pour the rinsate into the sprayer, and let it drain for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat rinsing twice more.
  • Inspect the container. If there is pesticide residue remaining, continue rinsing until it is clean.

Pressure Rinsing

  • Use a special nozzle attached to an adequate water source, such as a garden hose, to spray the inside of the pesticide container. If you are mixing pesticides in the field, you may consider plumbing a garden hose into the discharge side of your water supply pump.
  • Puncture the side of the container with the pointed nozzle.
  • Hold the container over the sprayer tank to allow rinsate to run into the tank.
  • Turn the pressure rinse nozzle on and rotate to insure that all inside surfaces of the container have been rinsed. Rinsing times may vary with the manufacturer’s instructions, but 30 seconds is common.
  • Let containers drain and inspect to be sure they are clean; if containers are not clean, repeat rinsing.

Wear Gloves

Precautionary statements on pesticide labels state if chemically resistant gloves are needed. Wearing the right kind of gloves and caring for them properly can protect your hands from contamination whenever you work with pesticides. Cotton, canvas, and leather gloves are easily penetrated and hard to clean so they are not recommended for work with pesticides. Chemically resistant gloves are made with different rubbers. If the material is not resistant to your pesticide, you will probably notice some glove damage right away. If so, discard them and try a different glove material.

Care For Your Gloves

  • Read your pesticide label’s precautionary statements regarding glove use.
  • Choose glove materials considering both the pesticide’s active ingredient and formulation.
  • Always keep several pairs of clean gloves handy.
  • Keep contaminated gloves stored safely until cleaning or disposal.
  • Avoid leaving used gloves on the floor of your pick-up truck or in places where family members might touch them.
  • Replace gloves frequently.
  • Wash gloves exposed to chemicals daily in hot water and detergent.

Power Take Off Safety Tips

The Power Take Off – or PTO – transfers power from the tractor to another implement such as a grain auger, manure spreader, mower or feed grinder. PTOs operate by turning at speeds of 9 – 16 rotations per second. This speed and the device make the PTO very dangerous. A PTO entanglement is scary because you are caught before you can react. An entanglement can occur in the knuckle area, or where the two driveline shafts slide together.

Protect Yourself and Your Family By:

  • Wear Close Fitting Clothing – Avoid wearing sweatshirts with drawstrings and baggy or torn clothes, and tie back long hair!
  • Safety Equipment is Installed – Be sure that all PTO shields are in place and in good working condition.
  • Do Not Leave PTO Running – Start and stop the PTO only when you’re sitting in the tractor seat.
  • Never Step Over a PTO!!
  • Keep Children Away – Never allow young children to play near the PTO unit or work area.

Towing Safety Tips

Many adults and children receive injuries and even die from towing accidents.

Safe Use of Tow Ropes, Cables and Chains

Stuck! The tractor won’t go forward or backward, and you need help! Or, that stump or rock has got to be moved. A lot of power will be attached to whatever towing device you choose, easily stretching it to the limit. When that limit is reached, something will break. When it breaks, the rest becomes a deadly projectile. Parts such as ball hitches, clevises, chains and even complete bumpers have broken loose, becoming dangerous missiles.

  • Strong Equipment – Always use the strongest and best tow rope, cable or chain available. Use the strongest hooks that you have. Fasten them securely and be sure that the bumper or drawbar is secure.
  • Hitch to the Drawbar – Always hitch to the drawbar of the tractor doing the pulling. Hitching to anything other than the drawbar dramatically increases the chance of tipping the tractor. Hitching above normal drawbar height may tip a tractor backward.
  • One Chain per Vehicle – When using more than one vehicle for pulling, do not hitch them single file, with the total effort exerted on only one chain, cable or rope. Instead, hitch each vehicle independently, otherwise too much power can easily be applied to the final towing device.
  • Clear Area of People
  • Make Sure All Attachments are Secure
  • Apply Power Smoothly Without Jerking – Do not attempt to use the elasticity of nylon rope to increase your pulling power.

Tow Rope Statistics

All towing materials are dangerous when recoiling from a stretched condition and most can go through tractor cabs and pickup windows. The result is often a serious, disabling injury or death.

Tested Strength of New Tow Ropes:

  • 1-inch Nylon Rope has a breaking strength of up to 25,000 pounds. Nylon rope tends to recoil straight back to the point of attachment.
  • 1-inch Steel Cable may break at 10,000 pounds. Broken steel cable whips about furiously as it recoils.
  • 1/2-inch diameter Chain with Links may break at 2,400 pounds. Broken chain rebounds unpredictably, eventually winding around anything in its way.
  • Hook – Most commonly used may break at 4,000 pounds. The broken hook is like a bullet.

Tractor Safety Links

Tips for Tractor Safety

Tractor injury incidents account for nearly 16% of the agricultural machinery-involved injuries from 1991 through 1994.

Tractor Operator Responsibilities

Most accidents are caused, directly or indirectly, by carelessness and unnecessary hurry.There are eight primary responsibilities the safe tractor operator must meet whenever the tractor is used. In addition, owners and operators of tractors need to know that it is their responsibility to maintain safety decals in good condition. Owners are responsible for providing safe equipment for their employees.


  1. Proper Maintenance – Make sure all safety equipment and tractor parts are working properly.
  2. Pre-Operation Checks
  3. Avoid Injury-Incident Situations Maintains Safety Features
  4. Uses Tractor as Intended
  5. Refuel Safely
  6. Start and Stop Safely
  7. Adjust the Tractor for Safety
  8. Recognize Dangerous Situations and Make Changes

Roll Over Protective Structures (ROPS)

It is nearly impossible to buy a new tractor without a ROPS already installed, along with seat-belts. But many farms and ranches have a ready supply of older tractors without ROPS. Many of them can be equipped with a retrofit ROPS, but the value of the tractor isn’t considered enough to warrant the expense. A more important question is, does the life of the operator who drives that tractor warrant the expense of the ROPS?

An important part of the ROPS is the seat belt that keeps the operator within the safety envelope. The seat belt works, but only if it is worn. Foldable ROPS are now available on most new tractors. They should be folded only when needed to enter or clear an overhead obstruction. When the ROPS is in the folded position the seatbelt should not be worn since the ROPS is not effective in that position. Always secure the ROPS in the upright position as soon as possible after the close clearance work is done.