Ag Safety STAT: April 2015

Ag Safety S.T.A.T. – Safe Tactics for Ag Today is an electronic newsletter prepared by team members from the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety & Health Office. The goal is to provide seasonal safety news and activities that may be re-published in your own newsletters or programs. If you have safety-related questions or program ideas that you would like to share, please contact Dee Jepsen at

  1. Did You Miss It?

    Did you forget to join the “How To Do Farm Safety” webinar on planning a farm safety day camp at your operation. You are in luck! The webinar was recorded.

    During this webinar, we addressed the following topics: identifying your target audience (age group), age-appropriate messages, day camp format (educational stations with rotations vs. open house), available resources, camp evaluation, and safety precautions during the event. 

    If you are interested in viewing the webinar, please contact Kathy Mann at for access information.

  2. Improving Tractor Ride Comfort

    By: Dewey Mann, Research Associate

    As the ground temperature begins to warm up, preparations for spring planting are well underway. By the time this article goes to press, many farming operations will have already completed maintenance checks on spring planting equipment; meters calibrated, bearings and chains (if equipped) lubricated, planter unit leveled, change oil in the planter tractor, etc. Typically, ‘tire inflation pressure’ only makes the maintenance checklist if the operator has a planter with a ground drive system*. Sure, we might ‘check’ the tire pressure on the planting tractor, but where does our target inflation number come from? Possibly an inflation pressure we have used for years (25PSI), or a number we have heard thrown around the coffee shop. Proper tire inflation pressure can increase productivity, fuel efficiency, and yes, even ride comfort.

    Common means of suspension on agricultural tractors include (from operator to the ground): seat, cab, axle, and tire suspension. Aside from upgrading to a newer model tractor, the quickest method for influencing ride comfort is to adjust tire inflation pressure (tire suspension). Consulting tire load and inflation tables, from the tire manufacturer, is likely the best source for determining the proper tire inflation pressure.

    A row crop tractor equipped with 480/80R42 duals (4 tires across the rear axle), and an axle weight of 16,000lbs (4,000lbs per tire), the proper tire inflation pressure would be 12PSI (pounds per square inch).       

    The same concepts also apply for utility or lawn and garden tractors. If a lawn and garden tractor had a rear axle load of 1200lbs (600lbs per tire), and was equipped with 21x8.00-10 NHS tires, the recommended inflation pressure would be 10PSI.

    ALWAYS consult the tire load and inflation pressure tables, and communicate with your local tire dealer to ensure the proper inflation pressures are being used; and they the tire manufacturer will guarantee the warranty at the selected inflation pressure.

    *For those not familiar with planting equipment, a ground drive planter transfers power from a ground wheel, through a drive shaft to the planter transmission; if the diameter of the ground drive tire is altered (inflation pressure too high or too low), the planter rate will also be altered (underseeding, or overseeding). Modern planting systems are utilizing hydraulic or electric powered drive systems.

    Example load and inflation scenarios referenced using:

    Dewey Mann, research associate for agricultural safety and health, and lecturer for agricultural systems management, can be reached at (614) 292-1952 or

  3. Overexertion and Fatigue

    By Andy Bauer,  Ohio AgrAbility Educational Program Coordinator

    Hopefully spring weather is finally coming on, bringing with it long hours due to delays in getting field work done and crops planted. The extended winter weather will also cause delays in getting the garden planted in a timely manor. During this time of long hours and hard work don’t forget about your own health.  Overexertion and fatigue are two types of injury that long hard days of trying to get crops in the ground can cause. In the morning before going out to start the long days work take time to do some stretching exercises and warm the body up to get ready for long strenuous days.

    Remember to use proper lifting technics when lifting objects and try not to lift more than you can, don’t overextend yourself. Switch tasks often when bending, lifting and reaching out to do jobs. Your body is your most important tool so learn to respect it, pain is your body’s way of telling you to slow down a little and rest. When sitting in equipment for long periods of time, stop every couple of hours to get out, stretch your legs and do some stretching to loosen up your back. Stretching and walking around will help to prevent fatigue, also try to get a good nights sleep. Remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated as you work long hours and temperatures rise. Taking care of yourself will help prevent further planting delays.

    Overexertion and fatigue are also two concerns to be aware of when working in the garden. After working in the field all day pace yourself in working in the garden and be careful of bending and reaching out to plant the garden, don’t overextend yourself. Try to limit the hours worked in the garden and get some rest to prevent fatigue the next day. Plan your days out and work smartly.

    For more information contact the Ohio AgrAbiliy Program at or Andy Bauer at 614-247-7681 or

  4. Safely Working with Anhydrous Ammonia in the Field

    By: Kent McGuire,  OSU Ag Safety and Health Coordinator

    Many farmers will be applying anhydrous ammonia in the next few weeks. Even though anhydrous ammonia is a very good fertilizer, there are hazards associated to working with it. One hazard is that anhydrous ammonia is stored under high pressure. An unintended release can occur if the equipment is not well maintained, equipment becomes damaged, or workers are not trained to follow exact procedures. Additional hazards can be based on anhydrous ammonia’s chemical properties. Contact with skin can cause freezing of tissue or chemical burns. Severe irritation to eyes can take place since anhydrous ammonia seeks out water. And because of the strong odor, inhaling anhydrous ammonia can irritate the lungs and respiratory system. Some simple suggestions when working with anhydrous ammonia in the field include:

    - Always have water readily available. This should include a squirt bottle of water with you and 5 gallons of emergency water mounted on the nurse tank.

    - Personal protective equipment should include: long sleeve clothing, goggles, chemical gloves, and respirator with approved cartridge.

    - Wear the proper personal protective equipment when connecting or disconnecting nurse tanks from the applicator or when making minor repairs or adjustments in the field.

    - Ensure that a set of personal protective equipment is located in the cab of the tractor and in any vehicle used to transport nurse tanks.

    - Follow the recommended procedures for connecting and disconnecting nurse tanks and applicators. Shortcuts can lead to unintended release or unexpected exposure.

    - When changing nurse tanks or making field repairs, always work upwind of the applicator and the nurse tank. Applicator knives, flow meter, hose connections, bleeder valves, and nurse tank valves can be exposure openings for an unintended release.

    - When changing nurse tanks, park the tractor upwind before opening bleeder valves or disconnecting hoses. This can minimize the chance of anhydrous ammonia from entering the cab.

    - Watch for pinch points and crush points when hitching the nurse tank to the applicator.

    - Point the hose end away from you and make sure connectors and connection points are clean when coupling the nurse tank hose to the applicator.

    - Hand tighten valve handles. Over-tightening with a wrench can cause damage to the valve or seals.

    - Ensure hitch pins are secure and secondary chains are attached before moving the nurse tank.

    - Park nurse tanks (empty or full) downwind and away from neighboring houses, public areas and businesses.

    For more information about the OSU Ag Safety visit or contact Kent McGuire, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at or 614-292-0588.

  5. Manure Pit Safety for First Responders

    By: Michelle King, Ag Rescue Program Coordinator Intern
    There are many hazards located on a farm. One of these hazards, which can be deadly as well, is a manure pit. Farmers use a manure pit to store any manure their animals produce on the farm and to use that manure for fertilizer later in the growing season for their crops. There are many dangers that come with a manure pit. The biggest dangers are the harmful gases that are produced from manure sitting in a pit. These gases include hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, ammonia and methane.

      What are some factors that might cause a manure pit emergency?

    1. Changing or fixing a part in the pit without checking the air quality
    2. Retrieving tools or an object that has fallen into the pit
    3. Improper ventilation in the pit
    4. Agitation in the pit (causes gases to be moved and released in the pit)

    As first responders, please be aware of the dangerous gases located in a manure pit.

    • In some cases there may be more than one victim because of failed attempts to rescue by family members.
    • Make sure the area is properly ventilated.
    • Check for air quality and dangerous gases.
    • Make sure to wear the proper gear such as a full respirator to ensure you can breathe to make a successful rescue.
    • Have an attendant at the entrance of the pit that can monitor the rescue attempt.
    • Have additional personnel suited up in the event they are needed to assistant in the rescue.
    • Training is also important to know what to do in this situation. Those responding to manure pit emergencies should have training in confined space rescue.

    Be aware of the dangers on a farm and be prepared to make a successful rescue when called out to a farm situation.

    For more information or questions contact the OSU Safety and Health office at (614) 292-6008 or at

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