Ag Safety STAT: December 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
For a printable version please click here.

  1. Safety and Health Topics for your Upcoming Winter Programs

    Please consider the Ag Safety Office when developing your winter and early spring producer meetings or Workers Compensation group-rating programs. Our staff will work with you to design a program specifically for your audience group, or feel free to select a topic from our “Most Popular List” below. The average session is 45-60 minutes, but can be adjusted or combined with other topics to fit your schedule. Our goal is to make safety and health programs fun and interactive, oh yes, and also effective in changing behaviors!  We look forward to scheduling in your area for the 2016 season.

    “Tractor and Equipment Safety – Hazards with the machinery we use everyday” Tractors are the most hazardous injury agents on farms. This program addresses the top safety concerns, and involves the audience in a little game of reaction time. How fast do you have to be to avoid getting wrapped, caught, or entangled in farm machinery? 

    “Grain Storage Solutions for Safety and Health” It’s true, there’s a lot of money tied up in grain storage systems. But if the producer hasn’t considered safety and health factors in the equation, the costs of personal risks could even be higher. This program identifies the top priorities all producers should consider when working around on-farm stored grain facilities.  And it’s not just safety - grain dust is a serious culprit affecting our long-term health situation.

    “OSHA and AG – Busting any myths and learning about safe work practices for the farm and agritainment businesses” What rules apply to family farms, youth labor issues, and other management topics are addressed in this program. What considerations need to be made when the public is invited to the farm for agritainment activities?

    “Noise on the Farm – Detecting and preventing the sound problem” This program explains the effects of noise on the ear and how noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. For the youngest ears to those senior years, learn what can be done to protect your hearing for a lifetime.

    “ATVs and UTVs – Training programs for all ages” Common utility vehicles used on the farm can also cause serious injury. This course will look at safe operating procedures, recognizing potential hazards and effective uses for ATVs and UTVs on the farm.

    Other general Agricultural Safety & Health Programs can be developed to suit your audiences’ needs.  Please contact Dee Jepsen or Kent McGuire to schedule.

  2. Ohio AgrAbility Would Like to Conduct an Educational Program in your Area

    To help prevent back injuries for farmers and gardeners, Ohio AgrAbility will be presenting “Oh My Aching Back” presentations throughout the state. The 45-min presentation will focus on back strain and give tips and information for preventing back injuries for both the young and older farmers and gardeners.

    The program objectives are to:

    1.     Identify the 3 types of back injuries

    2.     Demonstrate proper lifting and work practices to prevent back strain

    3.     Learn how various products incorporate Universal Design and Assistive Technology features to make the chores easier

    Other popular program sessions offered by the AgrAbility Program include:

    “AgrAbility and Universal Design: How we can help Ohio farmers”

    Table Top display: The Ohio AgrAbility Program


    For more information and to schedule a presentation contact Andy Bauer, Educational Program Coordinator for Ohio AgrAbility at or (614) 247-7681. For more information about the Ohio AgrAbility Program visit

  3. Safety Ideas within your Tax Bracket

    Dee Jepsen—State Agricultural Safety and Health Leader

    As the end of 2015 draws closer, there may be families and businesses looking for ways to reduce taxes by lowering their reportable annual profit. While the OSU Safety Program does not typically provide tax advice, there are some great safety ideas that can help agricultural operations looking to make an investment in safety. In the long run these purchases can do more than save a tax dollar, they may just save a life or prevent property loss.

    For those small purchases, in comparison to the cost of office supplies, consider buying N-95 dust respirators, earplugs or ear muffs. Stock up supplies for the First Aid kits, or purchase new kits for farm and employee vehicles. Replace damaged or missing SMV emblems and fire extinguishers on combines and field machinery.  An idea for grain bin facilities is to purchase a fall protection harness, available in roofing sections of the larger hardware stores.

    Medium-ranged purchases include replacing damaged ladders, adding protective guards to mobile and stationary equipment, and making lighting improvement to barns and workstations with poor visibility. Retrofitting tractors with ROPS (rollover protective structures) can be a medium- to large-size investment, but many dealers will sell and install the retrofits at their cost, with minimal retail mark-up.

    Substantial investments to capital assets could include completely ditching the loyalty to the vintage tractors still used on the farm. Typically older models have less safety features and require more maintenance. By upgrading to a newer model with safer systems throughout and wider-set wheelbases to maintain a stable center of gravity, newer models can typically handle more HP load and improve fuel efficiency. Other farm improvement capital investments may be to the farm shop’s ventilation system, especially to improve exhaust capacity in welding areas. Another improvement could be to the electrical design systems, making an effort to replace old wiring, open breaker boxes, and broken conduit in buildings, and eliminating overhead lines with buried power. Many of the older grain handling facilities should consider converting to Three Phase underground supplied electrical systems.

    While safety is important to practice everyday, this time of year is a good time to consider investments that will put you in a safer place, and improve your position for taxable income. It’s not just your financial liability that will benefit from these planned strategies.

    For more information about the OSU Ag Safety Program visit or contact Dee Jepsen, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at or 614-292-6008.

  4. Reducing Stress for a Healthy Heart

    Andy Bauer—Ohio AgrAbility Program Educational Coordinator

    Fall harvest is complete in most areas of Ohio, and fall tillage is also completed in a lot of the state. Welcome rain has fallen across the state. However, farmers may continue to experience stress related to marketing this crop with current prices, year end financial planning, planning for next years crop and the upcoming cold weather. Farming consistently has one of the highest rates of deaths due to stress-related conditions such as hypertension and heart disease.  Stress makes the heart beat faster, preparing the body for action. However, prolonged high levels of stress can cause high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, damage to arteries and higher cholesterol levels.

    I asked participants in some AgrAbility presentations, “What is your most valuable tool on your farm?” and I generally heard the response, “The big tractor, planter, or combine.” On a dollar basis, these pieces of equipment are very valuable, but in reality your body and health are more valuable than all the other tools combined. Farmers perform regular maintenance on their equipment and try to keep it in good operating condition. However farmers don’t always keep up the maintenance on their own health. Seeing a doctor on a regular basis and following their advice will help to reduce some stress. Other suggestions for managing stress include:

    ·      Begin to take note of things that cause you to feel stressed.

    ·      Accept the fact that you may not be able to control everything.

    ·      Take time out each day to relax.

    ·      Maintain a healthy lifestyle through exercising, eating healthy and getting enough sleep.

    ·      Plan your day and prioritize what needs to be done.

    ·      Set realistic goals and expectations.

    ·      Avoid the “what ifs” and focus on what you do not know or can control.

    ·      Control stress during long work hours or activities by taking a relaxation break or short walk, get out and stretch your legs if you have been sitting on equipment for an extended period of time.

    ·      In cold weather, plan your day and avoid overexertion when doing tasks.

    For more information about the Ohio AgrAbility Program visit or contact Andy Bauer, Ohio AgrAbility Educational Coordinator, at or call 614-247-7681.

  5. Reducing Winter Work Injuries

    Kent McGuire – OSU Ag Safety and Health Coordinator

    Winter is around the corner and the day to day operations of the farm will continue despite bitter cold, freezing rain, or significant snowfall amounts. No matter what the conditions are outside, there is still work to be done around the farm such as feeding livestock, breaking ice in the water trough, cutting wood or loading stored grain.  Even though it may be tempting to “tough it out” or “work through it”, prolonged exposure to cold, wet, and windy conditions, can be dangerous, even at temperatures above freezing. Layered clothing is a necessity, but can be restrictive to the range of motion in your body movements. Individuals who continue to perform work activities in winter conditions are at a higher risk of a variety on injuries including: frostbite, overexertion, muscle strain, slips trips and falls, or heart attack.  Some simple guidelines for reducing the risk of injury in winter working conditions include:

    - Plan ahead and wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions, even a simple task may take longer to complete than planned. Remove or replace wet or damp clothing as soon as possible, including gloves.

    - If possible, perform work during the warmest part of the day and take frequent short breaks in a warm dry area to allow the body to rest and warm up.

    - Keep travel paths free from ice and snow. Be observant to areas such as water troughs or leaking roofs / gutters, where liquids may have splashed and have frozen.

    - When shoveling snow or removing ice: Stretch your muscles before you begin.  Don't overload the shovel, and take frequent breaks to stretch your back. Bend your knees and let your legs do the lifting. Avoid twisting motions which can lead to muscle sprain / strain injuries.

    - When walking on an icy or snow covered areas, take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction.

    - Keep your hands out of your pockets when walking. This can reduce the risk of you falling or completely losing your balance in case you slip while walking on ice or snow.

    - Use 3 points of contact when mounting or dismounting equipment (1 hand / 2 feet) or (2 hands / 1 foot). Be observant to potentially hazardous ground conditions when dismounting equipment. 

    - During the daytime, wear sunglasses to reduce glare and protect your eyes from UV rays being reflected by snowy ground cover.

    -When transitioning from the bright outdoor environment to indoor areas, stop briefly to allow your vision to catch up with the change in lighting.

    - Snow removal operations such as plowing, sweeping, and snowblowing can reduce visibility to near zero in the immediate area. Utilize a visual reference point to stay on course and avoid any potential hazards.

    - Use caution with gas powered equipment. Dangerous carbon monoxide can be generated by gas-powered equipment as well as alternative heating sources. Use these items only in well-ventilated areas.

    - Watch for signs of frostbite: loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.

    - Watch for signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, seek a warm location, remove any wet clothing, warm the center of the body first, and get medical help as soon as possible.


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

  6. Safety Santa