Savannah Valley District

Farm Safety: New Years Resolutions

Marion Barnes, Senior County Extension Agent

Clemson University

The New Year brings with it the talk of resolutions. Resolutions, however, have a reputation for being declared and then forgotten. Why not make a promise this year involving your family and their future? Make a promise to create a safer work environment for your farming operation. Farmers are used to working around large, powerful equipment, livestock, and chemicals, but there is always room for improvement.

Here are a few safety-related items to consider in the new year.

  •  General Farm Safety
  • Stay organized & clean up the clutter. Store tools properly. The farm shop would be a great place to start during winter. Fix anything that is broken and in need of repair.
  • Invest in quality personal protection equipment (PPE) such as hearing protection for hunting, cutting firewood, or in situations with damaging noise levels. Purchase an N-95 mask or appropriate respirators when handling grain or working in dusty conditions. Don’t forget eye protection, such as goggles, face shields, and impact-resistant safety glasses.
  • Check and recharge fire extinguishers in shop buildings, homes, and equipment. Check smoke detectors in spring and fall to ensure they are in working order.
  • Restock the first-aid kit in the shop, home, or vehicles. Consider having small first-aid kits in farm vehicles and equipment such as tractors and combines. Make sure employees and family members are familiar with basic first-aid measures.
  • Ensure all employees and family members are familiar with your farm’s emergency response plan. (You have an emergency response plan, don’t you?). Knowing what to do and who to contact during emergencies when seconds can save lives is critical.


  • Pesticides and Chemicals
  • Take an inventory of all pesticides, farm chemicals, fuels, and fertilizers stored on the farm. This information will be helpful for first responders in case of spills, fires, adverse weather events (hurricanes/ tornadoes), or other emergencies.
  • Properly dispose of any outdated, unusable, or unwanted pesticides. Contact the SC Department of Agriculture for disposal of waste pesticide events in your area.
  • Ensure all pesticides are adequately stored and all containers are properly labeled. Winter is a great time to take inventory & organize your pesticide storage area before planting season.
  • Make certain Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are available for each pesticide/ chemical you have & are stored in a central, easily accessible location.


  • Machinery and PTO
  • Inspect shields and guards for wear and damage. Pay particular attention to PTO shielding. Replace as necessary. Ensure lighting and marking on farm equipment is in working order.
  • Inspect slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblems on all equipment. Replace damaged or faded SMV emblems with the most recent version to ensure maximum visibility.
  • Review equipment operator’s manuals at the beginning of the season. The operator’s manual contains information on safely operating and maintaining equipment. 


  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Create a schedule for when you will take time for yourself and your family. A break now and then away from the farm can help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Take care of your body through regular exercise and getting the proper rest. Schedule regular doctor visits & keep your appointments.
  • Don’t overlook your mental and emotional health. Ask for help if you find yourself in situations where you are feeling stressed out or dealing with anxiety or depression. 


  • Large Animal Handling Safety
  • Ensure all gates, fencing, and handling systems are in good repair and working order.
  • Evaluate your cattle herd, especially herd sires, for disposition, aggression, and handling safety. Remove aggressive animals.
  • Resolve never to work with large animals alone. Always have someone present in case of an emergency.


  • Youth Safety
  • Resolve to make your farm safer for children or youth living, working, or visiting your operation.
  • Designate a safe play area for young children away from machinery or livestock and be well supervised.
  • Ensure youths are assigned age-appropriate tasks when working on the farm.
  • Make sure working youth are appropriately trained and supervised.
  • Resist the temptation, no extra riders on tractors or other farm equipment.

This is not a complete list of safety suggestions, and you may be implementing many of these in your operations. Remember that you cannot address farm safety once and (be done with it). Begin this season by developing a safe work environment for your family, employees, and yourself.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.