Shopping for on-farm safety

Take time during the winter to make sure your equipment meets safety standards

The weather outside may be frightful, and you may feel more like hibernating for the winter than shopping for farm equipment. But consider setting your slippers aside and pulling on your Sorels. Because it could be time to replace some equipment and you need to know what to look for from a safety perspective.

To begin, it might surprise you to know that while machinery standards in North America are developed to help make equipment safer, farm machinery constitutes one of the few products that can be imported into North America without meeting a CSA or equivalent design standard. That places the onus on the consumer to do the research and ask the right questions.

Don’t be lured by a great price and a long product description that may include some safety features. Make sure the equipment you are interested in has a CSA or equivalent ROPS in place. ROPS, or a rollover protection system, is a metal, upside-down u-shaped frame that fits over the operating stations of tractors and skid-steer loaders. When operators drive tractors outfitted with a proper ROPS and wear their seatbelt, the system is approximately 99 per cent effective in preventing rollover-related injuries or death.

While Most North American manufacturers voluntarily comply with CSA standards for ROPS, that can’t be said of all manufacturers. So how do you know? Inspect the device. Does it have a nameplate on the rollover structure? If so, that nameplate should include the make and model of the tractor or skid-steer as well as a reference to the standard to which the structure was built. If it doesn’t, or if you can’t find a nameplate, then in all probability the manufacturer did not build that rollover structure to any standard and there is no guarantee that it will protect you in the event of a rollover.

Shields and guards are parts that are often overlooked when it comes to maintenance and replacement. Is your PTO shield missing or seen better days? It might be time to replace it. A visit to your nearest ag retailer can help you source the shield originally designed for your equipment.

Not sure the lighting on your agricultural equipment is up to the task of travelling down a busy highway? Consider purchasing a lighting kit. The introduction of LED and wireless lighting kit options makes installation less invasive and straight forward. Just make sure the lights you purchase will flash in synchrony with the lights on your tractor or truck. This will help ensure an approaching motorist understands that both machines should be treated as one moving unit. And make sure to check with your provincial transportation department to see if your province has any particular lighting requirements. Motor vehicle collisions trail just behind entanglements when it comes to major causes of fatal agricultural injuries, so the sooner you can properly outfit your equipment, the better.

If you are responsible for replacing and upgrading farm equipment, make sure to do your research and shop responsibly. It will help protect everyone living or working on the farm.

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