By Brian Lowe
Director of Sales & Marketing
Progressive Turf Equipment Inc.
In the farming industry, incident statistics are staggering and numbing. They should jolt each one of us to pay greater attention to what we and our colleagues are doing.
No matter how many acres are in sod production, mowers are used more frequently and for more hours than any other piece of equipment on a sod farm. The high utilization and the long useful life of a mower can lead to complacency in its operation and maintenance. Complacency ranks right up there with improper or no training as a leading factor in mishaps.
Take a look at your own equipment. Are all the PTO guards in place? Are all the belt covers in place and properly secured? Are the blades balanced and fastened securely? Are the blades genuine OEM parts? Are the decks in good condition? If you answered "no" to any of the above, you need to reassess your maintenance practices.
Your mower might cut just fine with a deck belt cover missing, and heck it is easier to change the belts too. While no one should ever be close to a mower when it is running . . . well that's unfortunately how statistics are generated.
What about the operators? Are they properly trained and retrained? Do they understand their responsibility? Are they competent to watch for and anticipate how an accident could happen? Have they recently read and understood the warnings in the operator's manual and signed off that they have? Do you have the proper manual with the equipment? Do you have their training documented?
As an owner or farm manager, you have certain responsibilities under the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA):
OSHA Training Requirements (USA)
The following training requirements have been taken from Title 29, Code of Federal Regulations Part 1928.57 (a)(6).
Operator Instructions. At the time of initial assignment and at least annually thereafter, the employer shall instruct every employee in the safe operation and servicing of all covered equipment with which he is or will be involved, including at least the following safe operating practices.
While this list is not all encompassing, it shows the scope of the responsibility the owner or farm manager holds, no matter where you live and work. The key is to train and retrain.
As a manufacturer, our focus is always on developing and producing high value, productive equipment that gets the job done - safely! Owners and operators are key elements in achieving this goal.
For more information on drive line safety, click on the "SAFETY" heading on the left hand side.
Lowe, Brian. "Mower Safety, Just Good Business Sense". Business Management Newsletter - June/July 2012: Page 4. http://www.TurfGrassSod.org
Article reprinted with permission from Turfgrass Producers International (TPI)