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Take care of yourself and your equipment this planting season

Long hours and fatigue means farm safety should be top of mind for ag professionals

Planting season is a critical time for agriculture professionals, as the success of their crops largely depends on the care and attention shown during this period. This effort leads to long hours and potential fatigue for workers across the industry.

“As farmers begin to prepare their fields for planting, many feel the added demands of the Spring season,” said Laramie Sandquist, associate vice president of Risk Management for Nationwide Agribusiness, the nation’s No. 1 farm and ranch insurer1. “During these strenuous days, remember that the health and well-being of yourself and others working on the farm are just as important as the success of this season’s harvest.”

Nationwide’s Risk Management experts encourage agriculture professionals to keep these safety measures top-of-mind to help steer clear of planting-related complications.

  1. Ensure visibility of equipment – During planting, you may be on roadways before dawn and after dusk, so it’s critical that all equipment is visible during these times. Clean reflective tape, slow-moving vehicle signs, and functioning warning lights can help minimize risks. Unfortunately, roadway accidents continue to be a major driver of agriculture-related insurance claims each season, highlighting the importance of taking precautions when operating equipment on or near public roadways.
  2. Stay alert for hazards in the field – Weather conditions, such as the severe drought in 2022 or recent heavy rainfall and flooding in some areas, could increase risks of sinkholes, seeps or washouts. These field hazards can lead to secondary accidents like injury or equipment damage, so workers should keep a close eye on conditions throughout the planting operation and ensure they’re prepared for what the weather might bring.
  3. Wear seatbelts in equipment where available –Seatbelt use is crucial for ensuring the safety of ag equipment operators but is still often overlooked today. Tractor rollovers, or shifting centers of gravity when transitioning into planting mode, can increase risks of being thrown from equipment and result in serious injuries or even death. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health estimates that approximately 250 rollover fatalities take place each year. 
  4. Check chemical products twice – Farmers should double-check the labels on all chemicals they’re handling to prevent misapplication and ensure they have the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like respirators, gloves and eye protection, ready for their use. With many in the industry changing the pesticides and fertilizers they’re using due to supply and cost issues, it’s important to be aware of any differences in application rates or PPE that may be needed.
  5. Keep an eye on stored grain – As the weather warms and farmers attention is focused on planting, the conditions of grain in storage bins can quickly deteriorate. Remember to monitor your grain bins to ensure your grain does not go out of condition and always use proper safety procedures when working in or around them.
  6. Communicate, communicate, communicate – Ag professionals work long hours alone during planting season, and if an injury or accident were to occur it could be many hours before they’re found. Communicating daily plans and progress clearly to those involved, as well as ensuring all individuals have a working cell phone, can help prevent emergency situations.
  7. Take care of yourself – Spending long days in the sun can lead to fatigue so it’s important for farmers to ensure they are getting proper rest, hydration, and sustenance throughout the planting process.

Staying aware of potential safety hazards during planting season can help minimize risks to everyone working on the farm. For more expert tips and resources to help you run a successful business and maintain the safety of your operations, visit Nationwide’s Ag Insight Center.


1 Source: A.M. Best Market Share Report 2021