Have a Safe and Successful Harvest this Fall!

posted by Laura Manwarren on Monday, October 10, 2022

We are currently in the midst of harvest season here in Northwest Iowa, and we would like to remind everyone that we can all do our part to help our local farmers - and you - be safe this season.

Below are a few fall harvest safety reminders:


All drivers need to be patient and understanding on our roadways. If you're driving in the Midwest, you will likely encounter farm machinery going slower than you are down the road. Tractors, combines, grain trucks, and semis are much larger and heavier than other vehicles. Remember,

  • Their acceleration and stopping times are much different than a regular vehicle.
  • They typically need a wider turning area.
  • They tend to have several blind spots, making other vehicles on the road less visible to them.

To ensure safety, motorists should always slow down and use extra caution when approaching farm machinery. Do not tailgate, give them ample clearance, and take your time - watch for a safe area before attempting to pass.

For equipment operators, always be aware of your surroundings! In addition to paying attention to other vehicles, watch out for low-hanging tree limbs and electrical lines. Also, please ensure your equipment is properly lit and marked with the correct safety signage.


Other safety tips that farmers should keep in mind once they are safely off the roadways and working in the fields:

  • Farmers should complete all safety checks on their equipment to ensure it is working properly.
  • If you have additional help in the field, please ensure they are familiar with your equipment prior to operating.
  • Make sure that you have the ability to communicate with others, whether it be by cell phone or radio system. Farmers should set up a communication plan in case an emergency occurs.
  • Always shut off your equipment before working on it.
  • Power take-off injuries can happen in the matter of seconds by a person's clothing being caught and pulling them into the machinery.

Please also keep in mind grain bin and silo safety. Risks include suffocation from engulfment or entrapment, explosions due to high amounts of grain dust, falls from heights, or crush injuries from grain equipment.

Youth Safety

If you are working anywhere near children, be aware of their location. Young children are often attracted to farm machinery and may feel the urge to climb on, under, or in a piece of equipment. Always make sure children are being supervised around equipment. If you have older youth working for you during harvest, please ensure that they are completing a job that fits their ability and not taking on more responsibility than they are mentally or physically able to complete on their own.

Take Breaks and Get Rest

Fatigue is a major concern for farmers during harvest - farmers are anxious about getting their crops out as the weather allows and often have to put in long hours to get everything done in a timely manner. Fatigue dulls the senses and creates higher risk for accidents to occur.

Listen to your body - as difficult as it may be, try to get an appropriate amount of sleep to rest up after a long day and prepare you for the next busy day in the field.

Mental Health

Farming is an extremely stressful occupation. It is important for farmers to recognize when they are feeling stressed and know the warning signs of when their stress is becoming too much for them to handle on their own. Do not hesitate to ask for help from a professional. 

In a crisis, call 911 or go to the emergency room. Also, the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline is available by dialing 988.

For non-emergent situations, take the time to address the stress that is occurring. Some ways to help with stress include getting adequate sleep, seeking assistance from others, finding someone to talk to, and limiting the use of drugs and alcohol.

We hope everyone has a safe and successful harvest this year!

About The Author

Laura Manwarren

Laura Manwarren, RN, BSN serves as the Safety Director at Spencer Hospital.