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Make hitting the hay a priority during harvest

tractor in field at night

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - For many farmers, fall requires long days in the field and little rest. The pressure to harvest as much as possible combined with fatigue and looming deadlines can result increase the risk of potential hazards.

Safety and health of workers, including making time for sleep, should be a priority when considering a farm’s productivity, according to Josie Rudolphi, University of Illinois Extension associate research scientist.

“Rushing and cutting corners can lead to injury, which no one has time for, especially during the harvest,” Rudolphi says.

Rudolphi grew up on a farm and has researched the sleep habits of farmers. She says that getting proper rest can make a huge difference in staying safe, but during the time crunch of harvest season, farmers sacrifice sleep to work late into the night.

“Sleep deficiency has been associated with increased injury, reduced reaction time, and reduced concentration,” Rudolphi says. “All of which could impact health and safety, as well as productivity.”

The demands of harvest are stressful and lack of sleep can intensify that and lead to errors in the fields or even on the roads.

To improve sleep, Rudolphi advises farmers go to bed and wake up at regular times when possible. They can use rainy days to catch up on sleep.

Other sleep health tips include:

  • Create a bedroom environment that encourages sleep; keep it quiet, dark, and cool.
  • Limit electronic device use.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.

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SOURCE: Josephine M. Rudolphi, assistant professor of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

WRITER: Ann Augspurger, Communications Director, Safe Electricity

Safe Electricity is the award-winning, public awareness program of the Energy Education Council, a 501(c) 3 (not-for-profit organization) established in 1952 on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With offices located in Springfield, Ill., Safe Electricity operates under the University of Illinois Extension and is led by the EEC Board of Directors. Since the Safe Electricity program was created in 2001, it has provided thousands of safety-minded resources to its more than 500 utility members from across the country to help save lives and reduce injuries.