Farm Safety Guide

In a typical year, the National Safety Council says 1,200 persons working in agriculture die from job-related injuries. Another 140,000 are injured. Damage to farm property, machinery and crops is in the billions of dollars.

As a farmer or rancher, you understand the time, energy and capital wrapped up in a successful farm or ranch operation. No doubt, you also realize the risk inherent in this dangerous occupation.

While insurance is designed to lift much of the financial burden from your shoulders,
 it can't remove the inconvenience nor loss of life or limb.

There are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of damage or injury.
This brochure looks at four areas: General Farm Safety, Fire Prevention, Security,
and Buildings.


  • Do not allow children to ride on tractors
  • Have roll-over protection (ROPS) on all tractors.
  • Have all operators complete a tractor safety course.
  • Make sure all equipment has proper working lights and slow moving vehicle signs.
  • Wear seat belts when operating all vehicles, including farm machinery.
  • Make sure all power take-offs, belts and augers have proper guards and shields.

red combineFarm machinery

  • Turn off power before adjusting, servicing, or unclogging power-driven machinery.
  • Make sure loads being towed are properly hitched to the drawbar and that pins and chains are in place.
  • Display slow moving vehicle signs on machinery towed or driven on the highways.
  • Have shields and guards in place and maintained at all times.
  • Inspect and maintain all hydraulic hoses and couplings.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated.

spraying chemicals on corn fieldChemicals

  • Read and follow manufacturer's directions for storage, handling and application of chemicals. Contact your county extension agent for additional information or training on chemical handling.
  • Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including gloves, eye/face shields, ear plugs, respiratory protection, and hats.

Other hazards

  • Wear devices to protect your hearing (studies show more than 50 percent of older farmers have hearing loss)
  • When entering pits in hog barns, always wear a respirator to avoid being overcome by the fumes.
  • Inspect and maintain all machinery, equipment, and tools to keep them in proper working condition.
  • Have first-aid kits available and develop an emergency plan.

brown cow behind fenceSecurity

Protecting your property -- and, more important -- your safety and well-being -- has become a high priority in rural areas these days.

Some suggestions:

  • Maintain adequate lighting around the farm yard and in the home.
  • Have singe cylinder deadbolt locks on all entrance doors to your home. Keep farm buildings locked.
  • Record serial numbers of all equipment. Mark equipment and livestock to aid in the recovery should a theft occur.
  • Ask neighbors to check the farm regularly when you are gone.
  • Inspect and maintain fences used for livestock.


Farm buildings pose a number of perils-ranging from how they're put together to the equipment you use in them. Here's how to avoid some of the pitfalls:

  • Have an electrician verify that all electrical systems and equipment are properly grounded. This can help reduce the chance of shocks and/or production losses to livestock.
  • Install corrosive-resistant wiring, fixtures, and boxes in hog and dairy barns.
  • Weld in buildings only in well-ventilated areas away from flammable or combustible materials.
  • Be sure grain bins have permanent ladders inside and out. Use a lifeline when entering a bin or silo and wear a protective mask.
  • Do not use extension cords as permanent hookups.
  • Hang brooder lamps by chains, not the electrical cords.
  • Insulation in all buildings should be covered with a 15-minute fire barrier (for example, 1/2 inch rate gypsum board, and 5/8 inch plywood) to reduce the likelihood of fires.

Fire prevention

Losses caused by fire and lightning account for almost 60 percent of fire claims paid.  You probably are a long way from a fire department, so fire safety on the farm has added importance. The following steps can help reduce the likelihood that you will be affected:

  • Maintain smoke detectors throughout your home and check them regularly to verify that batteries are in proper working condition. (Change batteries at least every 6 months.)
  • Place approved fire extinguishers in your home, on large tractors or combines, and in barns, shops and machine sheds.
  • Develop an evacuation plan for family members, including a meeting place.
  • Have a licensed electrician periodically inspect your electrical systems. Be sure updates to your current electrical systems are performed by a qualified electrician.
  • Inspect and maintain heating units before the beginning of each heating season.
  • Clean fireplace/woodstove chimneys prior to the heating season-more often if you use the fireplace often.
  • Install surge protection on service panels in the home and in dairy or hog barns.
  • Consider installing a lightning protection system. Consult a UL or LPI (Lightning Protection Institute) approved contractor.
  • Practice good maintenance of your farm or ranch. Cut weeds and grass around buildings, maintain a clean shop, and store all chemicals and flammable liquids properly.
  • Don't burn trash outdoors on windy days and don't leave fires unattended.

By following these guidelines you can help make your farm a safer place for your family and employees.


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