ST. CLOUD, Minn. — All too often, I’ll be on farms and see an equipment safety shield or guard sitting in a corner somewhere, collecting dust. When I ask about it, the common answer is something like, “I had to take it off to fix something and it was too much hassle to put it back.” I understand that on the farm, time is money. However, those guards are there for a reason. They are a simple mechanism in prevention.

My dad lost his leg after getting it caught in an auger which didn’t have a proper guard in place. Had a guard been there, his life would look drastically different right now. Again, guards are on equipment for a reason. Equipment with augers are very common on the farm. Most commonly, an auger will have a guard and/or cage around the intake end. The purpose is to prevent objects from getting pulled in. On older equipment, it’s possible that the guard may need to be replaced as improvements have been made to safety equipment over time.

Power Take-Offs, or PTOs, are also common farm equipment. Guards for PTOs should include shields on the PTO stub of the tractor, the implement input driveline, and the implement input connections. These guards should be checked regularly for damage. If the rotating guard on the implement input driveline can no longer rotate independently, it is just as dangerous as an unguarded shaft.

In addition to large equipment, also consider smaller tools. Tools like angle grinders and power saws are used often on the farm. These smaller pieces of equipment are still capable of causing a lot of damage and can lead to injury. Proper guards should be in place and replaced as they get damaged. In addition, prevent damage to guards by performing regular maintenance like replacing discs and blades.

There is a lot of hazardous equipment used in farming, and that equipment should be properly guarded. Replace guards as needed, reattach them after maintenance, and keep your farm a safe place to work.

This article was submitted by Emily Krekelberg, University of Minnesota Extension.