Even though winter has just started, it never hurts to keep these tips in mind while using equipment out in the cold.
After a long and hard winter, you should always do a quick visual inspection of your farm equipment to determine whether any repairs are needed, but you may also want to have a trained expert look at the equipment, too. You can either teach yourself how to do this or you can set up an appointment with a professional.
There’s nothing more frustrating than getting ready for a busy farming season only to discover that one or more of your pieces of equipment needs repaired or replaced. This can bring things to a grinding halt out on your farm, so it’s smart to take a careful look at these pieces in advance. It’s easier to look at the machinery now to make any necessary upgrades before you’re knee deep in planting season.
Safety signs and emblems should be your first stop when doing an inspection. These can easily fade over time especially if they’ve been subjected to heavy rain. Even though they might not be a signal of problems in the machines themselves, they should be looked at and possibly replaced on an annual basis. Look closely at all screws and bolts, because even though they seem like small pieces, they can cause big problems.
Also look at all of the reflectors and lights on the machine. Bulbs and reflectors may have broken down from winter storms, but they can be very important for protecting anyone operating the farm equipment. Especially if you have to take the farm equipment out on the road for maintenance or between farms, all of the safety facets should be reviewed annually to be safe. If you tow any equipment, you should check that the safety chain and a safety hitch pin are still in good shape. They are relatively easy fixes, but are worth the review every year.
Shields and guards on the farm equipment also take a beating not just during the farm year, but during the winter. Any missing guards should be replaced, and the cost of doing so is likely to be much less than the cost of recovering from an accident. In the event of an accident, you would not only have to get the equipment repaired, but you’d also need to figure out how to put work on hold while you are getting the machinery repaired.
Some damage can be inside the machine, too. Damage to seat belts is one common thing that might happen as the machine gets used often. In order for a seat belt to work properly, the latch needs to click when fastened down. While you’re inspecting the seat belt, take a close look at the Roll Over Protective Structures. If you don’t have this on your machinery already, you should consider having the equipment retrofitted to add it. Research from the National Safety Council indicates that the use of a properly installed seat belt in combination with Roll Over Protective Structures can be nearly 100 percent effective in preventing tractor rollover deaths.
Planning ahead by having an inspection date for your farm equipment can be critical for preventing accidents and breakdowns during the busy farming season.
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