View from the Cab: Thinking harvest safety

By: Kent Casson

“Protecting Agriculture’s Future” is the theme for National Farm Safety and Health Week, which is underway now through Saturday.

Illinois Farm Bureau has partnered with the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety to promote safety awareness as the 2022 harvest season begins throughout the state.

Agriculture is still among the most dangerous sectors in the country with 573 fatalities or 23.1 deaths per 100,000 workers according to 2019 information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fall harvest tends to be the most dangerous time of the year for ag and one of the busiest seasons.

In a social media post last week, Illinois State Police reminded the public that the Slow Moving Vehicle emblem means farm equipment travels at a very slow speed on roads. Motorists are urged to not drive distracted and pay attention. Pass only with extreme caution and remember the flashing amber lights mean to be aware and use caution around equipment on roadways.

Illinois State Police also say to allow extra room when following machinery and be patient as a farmer cannot always move over to let motorists pass. If you cannot see the operator, the equipment operator cannot see you. Remember it is illegal to pass in a no passing zone or within 100 feet of an intersection.

Farmers must install mirrors wide enough to see what is following them and always use turn signals to indicate plans to turn into fields or driveways. If road conditions are safe enough, tractors or combines should pull over temporarily to let traffic pass. Minimize the width of equipment as much as possible to not interfere with traffic in an adjoining lane.

Ag equipment should avoid traveling in rush hours, bad weather or on the busiest roads. The time before daylight and after dark should be avoided for transporting equipment.

More on National Farm Safety and Health Week can be obtained by reaching out to your local county Farm Bureau office or by visiting

Area corn and soybean fields sure are taking on a different look as we inch closer to harvest each day around here. A few growers got out in the field last week, although very few crops have been taken off. Harvest in recent days was mainly limited to those fields which were damaged by hail and storms earlier in the season or farmers wanting to get the bugs out of equipment before hitting it hard in the coming days and weeks.

Stay safe.

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