Ag Safety STAT: Safety Through the Seasons 2021

  1. Spring Pesticide Safety Reminders

    Mary Ann Rose, Director, Pesticide Safety Education Program

    You probably worked on your sprayer and other major equipment over the winter to gear up for pesticide applications.  Have you put any effort into preparing for applicator safety?  Here are some questions to ask yourself in preparation for the season:  

    • Do I have the required personal protective equipment on hand?  Review your pesticide labels, and make sure you do.  One of the new dicamba formulations used on dicamba-tolerant soybeans requires a respirator – did you know that?  Be sure you have whatever the label requires.
    • Are you sure you have the right kind of PPE? Let your pesticide label be your guide.   Leather or cotton gloves* do not protect you from pesticides – they absorb chemical and hold it close to your skin!  Read labels carefully to make sure your PPE have required level of chemical resistance.  The gloves in the picture are 14 ml nitrile, appropriate for many, but not all agricultural pesticides. Finally, conventional agricultural pesticides all require long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes, and socks at a minimum.  Are you in compliance with the label?  
    • Are you applying pesticides from inside an enclosed cab?  The label may not require you to wear the PPE inside the enclosed cab, but you must have it available in case you have to exit to the field while spraying.   
    • Mixing and loading in the field?  Make sure you have soap, water, and paper towels available to you to wash up before smoking, drinking, eating, or using a restroom.  In case you were to splash concentrated chemical on you, having a spare set of clothing is a good idea too. 
    • Are you using a pesticide that requires eye protection?  Choose eye protection that offers side protection from splashes.  Also, you must have eye wash on hand when mixing and loading if the pesticides you are using require eye protection.  Someday this precaution could save you from serious eye injury!
    • Look at your chemical storeroom.  Are there any leaky containers, or containers that are missing their labels?  Take steps now to fix those problems and remember: NEVER USE A FOOD OR DRINK STORAGE CONTAINER FOR PESTICIDES.  Sadly, fatalities have occurred from this poor decision.   Also make sure your chemical storage is secure enough to keep children and unauthorized people out.  
    • Have you stored your PPE in the pesticide cabinet or storeroom?  If so, remove and store it in another location.  Some pesticides are volatile, and they can contaminate your PPE. 

    *One exception: certain fumigants do call for the use of cotton gloves.  Otherwise these are not appropriate to use with pesticides.  

    To watch a short video (11 minutes) reviewing Pesticide Safety Basics for the farm, click below:

    Contact the Pesticide Safety Education Program with your pesticide safety questions: / 614-292-4070. This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team.

  2. Pharmaceutical Waste, National Drug Take Back Campaign

    Sarah Noggle, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, Paulding County

    What to do with your leftover medication?

    Many Ohio residents have expired or unused pharmaceutical products in their medicine cabinets and don’t know what to do with them. Unused drugs can create a risk of unintentional overdose or illegal abuse if not properly disposed of. However, flushing medication in the toilet can contribute to water contamination and may cause harm to aquatic life. To safely dispose of leftover pharmaceuticals from the home, the best option is to take them to a collection event or permanent pharmaceutical drop-off.

    The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people misused prescription stimulants, and 5.9 million people misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives in 2019. The survey also showed that a majority of misused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

    While Ohio EPA does not regulate the disposal of pharmaceutical products by consumers. The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has an excellent website with information for consumers, pharmacies, and others involved in the pharmaceutical industry. The website is The website has valuable information for drug disposal box locations, regulations, and additional resources. 

    The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Take-Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. While we focus on the April 24, 2021 date as the official National Drug Take Back day, many locations across the state will have other dates of drop-off days. The DEA website helps identify other drop-off locations across the US and is Locally contact your local Solid Waste Management District or your local Sheriff’s Office for locations. 

    For more information on the National Drug Take-Back program or agricultural topics contact Sarah Noggle, ANR Educator Paulding County at 419-399-8225 or To locate a county Extension Office or other personnel use the online search at This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team at




  3. Safe Measures Around the Post-Hole Digger = More Fence Built This Spring

    Richard Purdin, ANR/CD Educator Adams County

    A common tool used on the farm is a tractor mounted post-hole auger/digger. A tractor mounted post-hole digger can reduce time and labor when building large stretches of fence. There are two types of tractor mounted post-hole diggers available on the market, power take off (PTO) operated and hydraulic flow operated. It is important to use caution and follow safety steps to avoid injury or fatality when working with equipment with moving parts or a power take off (PTO) or hydraulic system.

    Prevention Measures

    • Read the operator’s manual for proper operating procedures before using the equipment.
    • Maintain safety shields and labels.
    • Use equipment only if all safety shields are in place.


    Inspect and Maintain Equipment Properly

    • Make sure cutting blade is sharp.
    • Ensure all shields are tightly attached.
    • Check for fluid leaks.
    • Inspect hydraulic hoses for cracks and weathering.
    • Use shear bolts provided by the manufacture only.
    • Grease frequently and check wear spots and shear bolts.


    Safe Operation Steps

    • Call 811 to locate buried utilities before digging.
    • Clear obstructions such as rocks and tree branches from the work site.
    • Allow only one operator on the equipment.
    • Disengage and turn off the tractor before dismounting to make repairs or adjustments.
    • Engage the PTO at low RPM speeds.
    • Consult the operator's manual for proper horsepower and rpm during operation.
    • Make sure the tractor used for the task is properly weighted when working on slopes or rocky terrane.


    For more information and safety steps you can go to

    Richard Purdin, ANR/CD Educator Adams County, can be reached at 937-544 2339 or This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team.

  4. Did you know Ohio ranks 4th in the U.S. for combine fires?

    Picture of a combine on fire in a field.

    Dee Jepsen, Associate Professor, Agricultural Safety and Health

    While many combines are parked and inactive over the spring months, a team of Ohio State University students are thinking about fire hazards that occur to these machines while they are harvesting summer and fall crops.  

    This team of Agricultural Systems Management students are seeking input from owners and operators of farm machinery. The goal of their survey is to better understand the patterns of routine cleaning, maintenance, and fire safety education that farmers have in place for their combine harvesters. 

    If you own or operate a combine or corn picker, please help them learn more about your fire prevention practices by completing a short survey by April 16th

    The survey questions are anonymous with the total survey taking approximately 12-15 minutes to answer. General questions are asked about the size of the farm operation and type of commodity harvested. Specific questions about each combine harvester will detail the age and maintenance plans in place for the equipment owned or operated by the farm. 

    The results will help target outreach safety messages, including maintenance and prevention during summer and fall 2021 harvest seasons. 

    The survey link can be found at this link: 

    U.S. Combine Survey

    Or using this QR code:  

    QR Code

    Thank you for contributing to an Ohio State senior capstone project. 

    Dee Jepsen, Associate Professor, can be reached at 614-292-6008 or This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team,

  5. Roadway Transport Safety of Anhydrous Ammonia Tanks

    Anhydrous Ammonia Tanks

    Dee Jepsen, Associate Professor, Agricultural Safety and Health

    As Anhydrous nurse tanks start rolling to the fields, roadway safety becomes a priority. This is a review of Ohio’s regulations to protect the transporter and the public.

    • Operator Age—Individuals transporting anhydrous ammonia must be 21 years old. (Ohio Administrative Code 4901:2-5-04,
    • Towing—It is highly recommended that the vehicle used to tow the nurse tank be at least equal in weight to the gross weight of the nurse tank. This will assist the operator in maintaining control minimizing the risk of a roadway incident. Roadway transport of an anhydrous ammonia nurse tank can include:     
      • Tractor, applicator and one nurse tank.    
      • Tractor and two nurse tanks. (Local supplier company policy may dictate that a customer may only tow one nurse tank.)     
    • Speed—The speed limit for anhydrous ammonia tanks traveling on the Ohio public roadways is 25 mph and a SMV emblem must be displayed.  (Ohio Administrative Code 4513.32,
    • Personal Protective Equipment—All vehicles transporting anhydrous ammonia shall carry a container of at least 5 gallons of water and be equipped with rubber gloves and either a full-face gas mask, a pair of tight-fitting goggles, or one full face shield. (Ohio Administrative Code 901:5-3-10,
    • Nurse Tank Leak During Transport—If a leak occurs in transportation equipment and it is not practical to stop the leak, the driver should move the vehicle to an isolated location away from populated communities or heavily traveled highways. (Ohio Administrative Code 901:5-3-10,

    Prior to operating a nurse tank on a public roadway, carefully check:

    • Running Gear – Inspect the farm wagon frame tongue, reach poles, anchor devices, wheel bearings, knuckles, ball joints and pins for structural damage, cracks, excessive wear and adjustments.
    • Tires – Check for proper inflation. Check tire tread for cuts, badly worn spots, and signs of weathering. Assure that lug nuts are tight.
    • Lubrication – Steering knuckles, wheels, tongues, or other applicable farm wagon equipment should be lubricated at least once every year.
    • Hitch pin – a safety-type hitch pin with a standard safety chain attachment to the wagon or running gear. 
    • SMV emblem – With the mounted point up, place the sign 2-6 feet above the ground. Place the perpendicular plane to the direction of travel (+ or -) 10 degrees. Place the sign as near to rear center as possible.
    • Warning Lights – turn signals, flashing warning lights and a red brake light are recommended when towing an anhydrous ammonia tank wagon on public roadways. A standard seven terminal break-away connector plug should be used on the tank wagon to accommodate these lights.

    There are legally required safety signs and labels to be on the nurse tanks. Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) requires Anhydrous to be marked consistently across all states. These markings include:

    • Nurse tanks must be labeled “ANHYDROUS AMMONIA” in 4-inch letters, on contrasting background, on the sides and rear of the tank.
    • The words “INHALATION HAZARD,” in association with the anhydrous ammonia label, in 3-inch lettering be placed on both sides of the tank.
    • A DOT approved “NON-FLAMMABLE GAS” placard with the numbers 1005 (identifying it as anhydrous ammonia) must be located on both sides and both ends of the tank.
    • The valves must be appropriately labeled by color or legend as vapor (Safety Yellow) or liquid (Omaha Orange). The letters of the legend must be at least 2 inches high on contrasting background and within 12 inches of the valves.

    Graphics courtesy of Ohio Department of Agriculture: Summary of Nurse Tank and Tool Bar Requirements.
    It is important to follow all rules of the supplier company. Additional training may be required by these companies to protect their liability when transporting and using their nurse tanks.

    Additional information can be found on Ohioline with the “Safe Handling of Anhydrous Ammonia” fact sheet at:

    Dee Jepsen, Associate Professor, can be reached at 614-292-6008 or jepsen.4@osu.eduThis column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team,

  6. Severe Weather on the Farm

    Tornado damage to farm in Mercer County, Ohio

    Wayne Dellinger, ANR Educator Union County

    Being aware of weather conditions is nothing new to farmers. Weather is what dictates everything from when fieldwork can be done to how well crops yield. Severe weather awareness is an old topic that sometimes needs a reminder. Getting caught in the middle of a field when severe weather strikes is not the greatest of situations.  

    Ohio Governor Mike DeWine proclaimed March 21-27, 2021 as Ohio’s Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week. Many of us saw pictures of the devastation of the August 2020 derecho that impacted parts of the Midwest.

    As the temperatures warm up and the fields dry, tractors will be operating in full force across the corn belt to get crops planted. With today’s agricultural equipment, every pass in the field may mean numerous levers, toggle switches, and buttons to pull and push. These, in addition to GPS and other monitors in the cab, can keep the operator pretty busy. 

    Keeping in Touch

    Modern communication tools such as cell phones and portable weather radios provide more opportunity to avoid exposure to severe weather than ever before. A simple call from the house may be all it takes to stay safe. Monitoring weather on a radio can let the operator know well ahead of time what is coming. In the spring severe weather season, conditions can change drastically during any given day. What is heard on the 6:00 a.m. weather report may evolve throughout the day because storms have a local component. 

    With all the opportunity to know what weather is coming, there are still occasions when the operator is caught in severe weather. This could be a pop-up thunderstorm, a flash flood, or even a tornado. These chances increase for every extra round that is made trying to get as much work done before the rain comes.

    If an operator is caught in severe weather, there are some actions that may be taken that will improve chances of escaping injury:


    Lightning may strike many miles away from the actual storm in which it was produced. Blue-sky lightning strikes are known to occur. When out in the middle of a field and caught in a lightning storm, the safest place is inside the tractor. Raise all equipment out of the ground to avoid any metal-ground contact.  


    Watch the sky during severe weather for changes. Often the sky will have a greenish appearance. A cloud that looks like a wall and has rotation is an indication of the possibility of a tornado. With soundproof cabs and loud machinery, it is not likely you will hear a tornado until it is too late.  

    If caught in an open area with a tornado approaching, get out of the tractor! Find a low area or ditch away from the tractor, lie down and cover head with arms.

    Unfortunately for agriculture, there are many structures that are easily damaged in tornados or straight-line winds. Grain bins and large machinery sheds are vulnerable to collapse and should not be used as shelters. Farms are also conducive to a great deal of flying debris whether it is hand tools, liquid storage tanks, or even calf hutches. Below ground-level rooms offer the best protection. Interior rooms of a sturdy structure are the best alternative.


    Flooding, and more specifically, flash flooding may happen in a very short period of time. Most operators are aware of what areas have a history of flooding or are susceptible to flash flooding. These areas should be avoided in severe weather events. Similar to stray lightning, flooding may occur even in areas that have received no rain if there was a large rainfall event upstream.

    Don’t get caught in severe weather this spring and summer. Keep a portable weather radio nearby or have a plan to be alerted by someone who does. Monitor weather conditions in your area.  

    A Watch or a Warning

    Remember: A Watch indicates conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather. A Warning indicates a tornado or severe thunderstorm is in the immediate vicinity – take appropriate actions.

    Wayne Dellinger, ANR Educator Union County, can be reached at 937-644-8117 or This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team. 

  7. Springtime on Rural Roads

    Wayne Dellingner, ANR Educator Union County

    Spring planting season will soon be under way across the State of Ohio.  After challenging planting seasons in recent years, farmers will be taking advantage of every window of opportunity to get seeds in the ground.

    Combine the spring planting equipment on the road and increased motor vehicle traffic because of more people transitioning from telecommuting back to work from COVID-19 and we have an increased risk of incidents on local roadways.

    In the period from 2009-2018 over half of the farm fatalities in Ohio were related to tractor use (OSU Extension Ag Safety & Health, Farm Fatality and Injury Database for Ohio).  Of these tractor related fatalities, around 14% were the result of a roadway collision.  In 2020 alone, the total number of incidents between farm units (farm equipment and farm trucks) and motor vehicles in Ohio was 380 (Ohio Department of Public Safety, Ohio Traffic Crash Facts).  Of these 380 incidents, 3 resulted in fatalities and 99 resulted in injuries.  While this total is down significantly from 2019 when there were 462 crashes, this could be attributed to less motor vehicles on the road because of businesses being temporarily shut down and telecommuting arrangements.  

    Distracted driving is a continued concern on local roadways.  It is important to remember closure time when coming up behind slow moving vehicles.  In less than 7 seconds, a motor vehicle traveling 55 mph will close 400 feet behind a tractor traveling 15 mph.

    Being aware and anticipating farm equipment actions on the roadway will help decrease the risk of collisions.  When approaching from the rear, watch for signals from the operator whether it be a yellow turn signal or hand signal.  With larger equipment, often it is difficult for the operator to see traffic coming from behind.  Watch for upcoming farm and field drives where the operator may be turning before attempting to pass.  If you are preparing to meet a piece of equipment, watch for guardrails, mailboxes, and road signs that may prevent the operator from getting over far enough to meet safely.

    Farm equipment operators can do their part by ensuring their safety lighting and marking equipment are clean and functional.  Using escort vehicles in both the front and rear may increase visibility and keep the operator in communication of upcoming hazards or situations while moving from farm to farm.  Finally, when possible, attempt to move equipment at off-peak motor vehicle travel times.

    Taking a drive in the country has seemed to be one of the few enjoyable and acceptable activities we can do for around a year now.  We need to enjoy the view, watch out for farm equipment, and stay safe.

    Wayne Dellinger, ANR Educator Union County, can be reached at 937-644-8117 or This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team. 

  8. Working Safely with Anhydrous Ammonia

    Kent McGuire – OSU CFAES Safety and Health Coordinator

    Many farmers are applying anhydrous ammonia as a part of their spring planting season. Anyone working with anhydrous ammonia should be familiar with the safe use of the product, understand the potential for injury and know how to respond to an emergency. There are several hazards associated to working with anhydrous ammonia in the field. 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. 

    Additional information can be found on Ohioline with the “Safe Handling of Anhydrous Ammonia” fact sheet at:

    Kent McGuire, OSU CFAES Safety and Health Coordinator, can be reached at 614-292-0588 or mcguire.225@osu.eduThis column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team.

  9. Vomitoxin in Corn Grain Bins

    N95 respirator

    Mark Badertscher, OSU Extension, Hardin County ANR Educator; with information from Pierce Paul, OSU Extension, Corn & Wheat Disease Specialist and Dee Jepsen, OSU Extension, Associate Professor and State Agricultural Safety Leader.

    Currently there is a lot of activity unloading grain bins and hauling corn to market. Cash bids are very good, the weather has broken after several weeks of cold temperatures and snow, and we have begun a new tax year for farmers. Considering the harvest of 2020, some producers may experience vomitoxin in their bins when unloading and cleaning out this past harvest’s corn crop. Since this week has been Nationwide Insurance Grain Bin Safety Week, this article will draw attention to on-farm and other grain storage safety when working with corn that has high levels of vomitoxin.

    Some localized areas of Ohio experienced fields with Gibberella ear rot (GER) that was more than likely contaminated with mycotoxins. Infection of the ear, development of visual symptoms (ear rot), and contamination of grain with vomitoxin all depend on weather conditions during the weeks after silk emergence. Once the fungus enters the ear via the silks (infection) and begins to colonize the developing grain, it produces vomitoxin, even if subsequent weather conditions are not favorable for mold and ear rot to develop on the outside of the ear. This is particularly true if infections occur late and conditions become relatively dry and unfavorable for visual symptoms to develop.

    Local markets such as ethanol plants, feed mills, and grain elevators test for vomitoxin levels in parts per million. Depending on the end use of the corn, these buyers will discount or reject loads at set levels of contamination. These levels increase with processing of the corn; and can cause significant issues when feeding to certain types of livestock. Severely diseased and toxin contaminated grain are usually smaller than healthy grain and covered with fugal mold. Compared to healthy grain, diseased grain kernels break easily during harvest, transport, and other forms of grain handling, increasing the number of fine particles and the amount of dust in the grain lot. 

    In the fall, it is recommended that fields with ear rot problems should be harvested as soon as possible and handled separately from healthy fields, even if it means harvesting those fields at a higher-than-usual moisture content. Adjusting the combine to minimize damage to the grain and increasing the fan speed will help to remove lightweight grain and dust particles, and as a result, reduce the level of mycotoxin in the grain. Once harvested, grain should be dried down to below 15% moisture with storage in a clean dry bin.

    Unfortunately, there are no commercially available treatments to reduce vomitoxin levels in stored grain. Poor storage may cause toxin levels to increase. Warm, moist pockets in the grain promote mold development, causing the grain quality to deteriorate and toxin levels to increase. Aeration is important to keep the grain dry and cool. However, it should be noted that while cool temperatures, air circulation, and low moisture levels will minimize fungal growth and toxin production, these will not decrease the level of toxin that was already present in grain at the time of storage. When selling grain, corn that has been tested with vomitoxin should be sold as soon as possible.

    Dry and store harvested grain to below 15% moisture or lower to minimize further mold development and toxin contamination in storage. Store dried grain at cool temperatures (36 to 44°F) in clean, dry bins. Moderate to high temperatures are favorable for fungal growth and toxin production. Periodically check grain for mold, insects, and temperature. If mold is found, send a grain sample for mold identification and analysis to determine if toxins are present and at what level. Clean bins and storage units between grain lots to reduce cross-contamination.

    Harvesting and handling moldy grain may expose farmers to mycotoxin and other moldy conditions in the grain dust. Dust in grain harvested from GER-affected fields contain a mixture of tiny pieces of grain, husks, and cobs, all of which may be contaminated with vomitoxin, as well as pieces of fungal mycelium (mold). In fact, husks and cobs are usually more contaminated with mycotoxins than the grain. Breathing grain dust can have adverse effects on the human respiratory system. When the dust is also suspect of mycotoxins, it is especially necessary to take precautions.

    Wearing a disposable, 2-strap N95 mask (respirator) helps protect the worker from breathing in dusty, moldy and toxic substances. This type of personal protection equipment will filter out at least 95% of the dust and mold in the air. The 1-strap mask does not have this level of protection, and is basically worthless in agricultural environments. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to purchase the recommended respirators for agricultural work. The suppliers have increased manufacturing of these items; however, some local outlets are still limited in their product availability due to an increased need to service medical personnel.

    If disposable masks are not available, consider a reusable quarter face mask with interchangeable cartridges. P100 filters may be more readily accessible for online purchases. Quarter masks, with replaceable cartridges, may also be more economical in the long term because of their multi-functional applications in agricultural settings. Either an N95 or P100 respirator are the best forms of protection from moldy and dusty grain dust. Protect yourself and all workers exposed to grain dust while both harvesting and handling suspect corn.

    For more information on respirators for farm use, consult the OSU Extension Factsheet: Dust and Mold, AEX 892.2.11,

    Mark Badertscher, ANR Educator Hardin County, can be reached at 419-767-6037 or This column is provided by the OSU Agricultural Safety and Health Team.

  10. Pull the Strings Before Working Around the Bin

    Image of drawstrings that can easily become entangled in augers, PTO shafts, and other rotating equipment.

    Richard Purdin, OSU Extension, Adams County ANR/CD Educator

    The Week of February 21st is recognized as grain bin safety week. Many producers will be working in or around grain storage structures to fulfill marketing contracts or sell their 2020 crop to purchase crop inputs for the upcoming 2021 growing season. During this time of year producers will most likely be wearing multiple layers of clothing in the cold weather conditions. Winter clothing such as hooded sweaters also called hoodies have become very popular on the farm due to being comfortable and the ability to easily take on and off. Hooded sweaters contain drawstrings that are used to tighten the hood around the wearers face and neck. Most producers don’t think about these strings being a hazard, but they can cause severe injury or even death if entangled or caught in moving augers, PTO shafts, or other moving equipment.

    Danger Zones around the Grain Bin

    The grain storage structure has many danger zones or areas that can serve as high risk to one's health and well being. Loose hanging strings, baggy clothing, or other loose clothing such as necklaces or wallet chains can easily become entangled in loading augers, unloading augers, PTO shafts, and exposed belts/chains.

    Maintain Equipment Shields

    Shields and safety signage are placed on equipment for your safety, never remove shields unless for service or repair. NEVER lean over or step over moving PTO shafts or augers.

    Educate The Next Generation

    Young adults working on the farm need to be educated on areas to avoid when working around the grain bin. Never let young children play inside or outside of the grain bin structure. Remember that it is a hazardous work area and accidents can happen fast. 

    Ways to Avoid Entanglement

    • Remove strings from hooded sweaters.
    • Cut strings from tattered or torn jeans, and other clothing.
    • Always wear tight-fitted clothing
    • Take necklaces, wrist bands, or other loose forms of other clothing off before working around grain bins.
    • Disengage all operating equipment and allow time for all moving parts to stop before servicing and or repairing.


    Richard Purdin, ANR/CD Educator Adams County, can be reached at 937-544-2339 or This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team.

  11. Is it pandemic fatigue, winter blues, or Seasonal affective disorder?

    Laura Akgerman, Disability Services Coordinator / Ohio AgrAbility Coordinator

    It’s wintertime. The temperatures are cold, the days are short, and the nights are long. You have work to do, but you just don’t feel like doing it. The good news is that the shortest day of the year is behind us, and we are getting a few minutes more daylight every day. If you have been feeling down and unmotivated for a few weeks or months, it could be the 2020/winter blues, or it could be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is estimated to affect 10 million Americans. SAD can cause you to feel depressed most of the day, on most days. SAD can cause you to have lower energy, lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy, or feelings of guilt, worthlessness or hopelessness. SAD can also cause trouble with motivation, not sleeping, sleeping too much, trouble getting of bed or working. 

    SAD is more severe than the 2020 blues, it is a real type of depression, and it can be managed and treated. Treatments include medication, light therapy, and counseling. If you have prolonged feelings of hurting yourself or others, or thoughts of suicide, please seek medical attention. Even if your symptoms are not severe, talking to a counselor can help you manage your SAD symptoms. A list of county-level Mental Health Resource Guides is available at the OSU Center for Public Health Practice.

    At home SAD management techniques include yoga, tai chi, meditation, guided imagery, music or art therapy and exercise. Make your environment sunnier and brighter - open your curtains or blinds and let the light into your home. Get outside and take a walk, or sit in the sun (wear sunscreen, even winter sun can cause damage). Fortunately, SAD does not typically last into the summer, and every day we are getting a little more daylight. Don’t ignore SAD symptoms, talk to friends and family, or a mental health professional.

    Laura Akgerman, Disability Services Coordinator and Ohio AgrAbility Coordinator, can be reached at (614) 292-0622 or This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team.

  12. Using Heat Lamps: Proceed with Caution!

    Sabrina Schirtzinger, ANR Educator Knox County

    As temperatures get cold livestock owners search for ways to keep their livestock warm. Often livestock owners are in a hurry and think hanging a heat lamp will be temporary. In a hurry they quickly hang the heat lamp up in the corner of a stall using baling twine to keep a newborn kid or day-old chicks warm for the night. This is an accident waiting to happen! With any electrical appliance or heating source they need to be used carefully. 

    If you must use a heat lamp, follow these tips:

    1. Purchase a quality heat lamp. Use lamps that are enclosed with a heat lamp guard. If using a lamp outdoors, make sure the lamp is labeled for outdoor use. 
    2. Use high- quality bulbs. Low quality bulbs such as thin glass can shatter.  
    3. Periodically check to make sure that the bulb is tightly secured. 
    4. Avoid using bulbs over 250W. 
    5. Secure the lamp to a panel using chain or a heat lamp clamp. Recommended distance from the lamp to ground or livestock is 20”. 
    6. Make sure the lamp is secured high enough that adult livestock cannot abuse (head butt, kick, or bash) the fixture.
    7. Plug your heat lamp into an Arc Fault Interrupter breaker which will trip if the fixture sparks. 
    8. Keep a fire extinguisher in the barn in case a problem arises. 
    9. Install a loud smoke detector that can be heard at the house that will help to alert you of a fire. 
    10. Never lay a heat lamp on a flammable surface. 

    There will be cases where you cannot avoid using a heat lamp. In those situations, never leave a heat lamp unattended overnight.  

    Sabrina Schirtzinger, ANR Educator Knox County, can be reached at 740-397-0401 or This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team,

  13. Avoiding the Emergency Room This Winter

    Richard Purdin ANR/CD Educator Adams County

    Winter is here and with winter comes inclement weather, unfortunately farmers and ranchers must tend to their chores no matter what mother nature may throw at them. The farm is filled with hazards and risk for slipping and falling.  During winter, this risk is elevated due to ice, wind, snow, and extreme low temperatures. In 2017 OSHA reported that 20% of workplace injuries were caused by slipping and falling in winter weather conditions.  Precautions need to be taken when working in the winter elements. No matter how important a task may seem, it is never more important than your health and safety. Here are just a few considerations and hints to help you avoid spending your new years in the hospital.

    • Be aware of your environment. Before heading out make sure to check weather conditions and be aware of any forecast changes that may take place throughout the day.
    • Dress appropriately for different weather conditions.  Wear proper footwear with non-slip tread. Sunglasses or transition lenses help reduce snow blindness.
    • Take your time- once you are outside be sure to allocate extra time to complete your task. Avoid running and quick changes in direction.
    • Avoid carrying heavy and bulky material – even if it means making an extra trip, carrying light, small loads help you maintain balance and vision.
    • If possible, store tractors, and other farm machinery in a barn- this will eliminate ice and snow developing on steps, ladders, and entry doors. Remember to mount or enter equipment using 3-point approach (2 feet/1 hand or 2 hands/1 foot).
    • Always have essential supplies on hand- this includes salt, shovel, and scrapers to clear ice and snow from walkways and other heavily utilized areas around the farm.
    • Maintain water drainage- make sure rainwater from feedlots, machinery sheds, grain bins/silos, and roadways do not pool in one spot. This can go a long way in avoiding a slipping hazard when the water freezes.
    • Be extra alert when working around livestock – keep extra distance from livestock in conditions that may allow them to slip and fall.
    • Be extra cautious around livestock watering facilities and manure platforms or push off ramps. Splashing water or liquid manure can freeze and create a slipping hazard.

    Other resources can be found at

    Richard Purdin, ANR / CD Educator Adams County, can be reached at 937-544-2339 or This column is provided by the OSU Agricultural Safety and Health Team.

  14. Winter Weather Preparedness on the Farm

    Wayne Dellinger, ANR Educator Union County

    With the turn of the calendar year coming off a year with a record setting number of tropical storms, what should we expect for early 2021?  OSU Extension Climate Specialist Aaron Wilson and most others agree that Ohio will likely experience below normal temperatures and average to possibly above average snowfall depending on how scenarios evolve. 

    How do we prepare the farm for such conditions?  Take advantage of daylight, when temperatures are warmer, and when weather is favorable to winterize equipment and buildings.  This is also a good time for routine maintenance so there is less probability of breakdowns needing repair when conditions are less than favorable. 

    Keep an eye on the weather.  Being aware of not only the short-term forecast, but also the long-term forecast is as important in the winter as it is in the Spring when trying to get crops in the ground.  Before a heavy snow falls, it is beneficial to clearly mark where drives are and especially where any lagoons and ponds are located.  This will assist those less familiar with the layout of the farmstead to avoid dangerous situations.

    Be prepared for the unexpected with livestock.  Do not wait until temperatures are below freezing to shop for a water tank heater.  You will most likely find an empty shelf.  Have water tank heaters ready as well as any heat lamps that may be necessary for farrowing, lambing, kidding, etc.  Have a contingency plan for power outages that will allow you to get water to livestock.  Depending on the forecast, you may want some extra supplies of feed and bedding material in case trips to town and deliveries may be delayed or not possible.

    Take care of yourself!  Layer clothing so depending on the amount of physical labor you are performing you may remain comfortable.  Ensure your head and hands are always warm.  Even as in the summer, be mindful to stay hydrated and avoid over-exertion.  When using alternate power and heating sources, be mindful of carbon monoxide buildup and provide adequate ventilation.  At all times, let someone know where you will be working.

    Being prepared increases safety, reduces stress, and facilitates smooth operation in less than ideal circumstances.

    Wayne Dellinger, ANR Educator Union County, can be reached at 937-644-8117 ex. 3024 or This column is provided by the OSU Agricultural Safety and Health Team.