URBANA, Ill. –  2020 has had its own unique set of challenges, but harvest doesn't have to be one of them. University of Illinois Extension offers these tips for a safe harvest.

Perform routine machinery upkeep ahead of schedule.
When the season gets busy, routine housekeeping is typically the first to fall off the to-do list. Take time to clean equipment. "Layers of dirt and dust can obscure the drivers view especially at sunrise and sunset, so take time to clean all cab windows," says Josie RudolphiUniversity of Illinois Extension associate research scientist.

Test and repair all lights and markers.
Make sure all lights work and markings and reflectors are clean and clean or replace slow moving vehicle signs.

Be cautious on public roads.
Since many drivers are unfamiliar with the size and maneuverability of farm equipment, operators should use hazards and turn signals diligently. Avoid moving equipment during peak traffic times. For example, shuffle equipment in the middle day to avoid people driving to and from work and school.

When yielding to oncoming traffic, slow down and be aware of soft shoulders. Avoid distractions, such as using cell phones when driving, and refrain from carrying passengers. Transportation incidents, including tractor overturns, are the leading cause of death for farm workers, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Get adequate rest.
Harvest is often characterized by early mornings and late nights, and lack of sleep may add to accidents. To prevent fatigue, eat protein-packed snacks (and avoid junk food) to maintain energy throughout the day. Take short naps, frequent breaks, and energizing walks. 

Look overhead for electrical hazards.
Power lines pose dangers for large, tall, extended farm equipment. Be aware of overhead power lines and plan a safe route. Survey the environment before beginning work, taking note of power lines and their location before moving any equipment or extending augers.

"Always work with a spotter when operating large machinery near power lines," Rudolphi urges. "Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance."

Learn more about sharing the road this harvest season from Doug Gucker, Extension educator for Macon, Dewitt, and Piatt counties.

SOURCEJosie Rudolphi, Extension Specialist, University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
WRITERJudy Mae Bingman, Communications and Marketing Manager, Illinois Extension

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