Harvest safety: Combine considerations

High winds and dry harvest conditions can create a couple of possible safety situations.

One, wind-blown swaths can roll into large bunches. If these bunches have to be broken apart before feeding them into the combine, this is best done while the combine is working in another part of the field. Avoid assigning the operator to fork canola into the feeder-house of a stationary (but running) combine just in case that person should get too close.

Two, chaff and straw can build up on the radiator and air-intake vents or in areas where friction may cause the residue to ignite. Clean or blow off these areas more frequently, if necessary, to prevent engine overheating or fires elsewhere on the combine.

Tips to prevent field and combine fires

  1. Ensure bearings and drives are lubricated and adjust tension as needed.
  2. Check exposed wiring for damage, wear and deterioration.
  3. Remove crop residue, dust, debris, dirt and excess lubricant around all heat sources regularly.
  4. Before refueling farm equipment, allow the engine to cool.
  5. During the day, walk around machinery and watch, listen and smell to check everything is in good working order.
  6. Have operational fire extinguishers mounted on equipment and ensure everyone is trained to use them. Fire extinguishers need to meet the requirements of the provincial fire code. As a safe practice, ensure you have one in the cab and one that is accessible from the ground.
  7. Carry a shovel on harvesting equipment for potential fires. Take precautionary measures when using low clearance vehicles in fields, as exhaust pipes and catalytic converters can ignite dry grass or stubble.