Identifying Workplace Hazards

Kent McGuire – OSU Ag Safety and Health Coordinator
No matter if you are finishing summer farm tasks or preparing for fall harvest, it is important to assess the safety hazards within your work area. The ability to assess potential hazards before an injury occurs is a key component of working safely and protecting the safety of those working around you. All agricultural work environments present their own unique safety hazards. No two areas or work tasks are the same, however there are general guidelines that can be followed:
- Confirm there are no slip, trip and fall hazards such as liquid spills, tools, debris, loose grain, or elevation changes on the floor or ground.
- Be mindful of material/chemical injuries due to splashes in the eyes or on the skin. Also watch for over-exposure in dusty environments or with vapors and mists.
- Read safety labels and understand terms such as flammable, combustible, corrosive and potential for personal injury.
- Recognize travel patterns of farm equipment and moving vehicles to reduce the potential for collisions, run-overs and other injuries.
- Verify machine guarding is in place and properly functioning to avoid equipment hazards such as pinch-points, cut points, wrap points, burns, or stored energy.
- Consider any processes that may generate flying debris or thrown objects that can cause blunt trauma including eye injuries, struck by, or punctures.
- Ensure emergency stops or shut down procedures work properly.
- Verify that air, water and hydraulic lines are in good condition to minimize uncontrolled release.
- Determine if Personal Protective Equipment is being used and is proper for the job.
- Be aware of any overhead and falling hazards that may be present in your workspace.
- Consider factors like fatigue and repetitive motion that can have an impact over long periods of time.
The final guideline is the most important. Take the proper actions required to fix a hazard once it is identified. If immediate action can be taken, such as cleaning up spills, repairing equipment, securing loads or adjusting work processes, then do so.
For more information about OSU Ag Safety visit or contact Kent McGuire, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at or 614-292-0588.