Welcome to the ACRE

The Agronomy Center for Research and Education, ACRE, is an outdoor laboratory for Purdue Agriculture. Used for field research and hands-on teaching, the 1,135 acre farm is a busy place with faculty, staff, student, and visitor activity. I am Jim Beaty. I have been Superintendent of the ACRE since 1986. With my four full time staff members, part time help, and student employees we are responsible for operating the research farm. About 53 university researchers conduct projects here at the ACRE. I plan to write about our research, visitors, and farm safety thoughts.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #63

For the safety of yourself and others who work inside the Crop Protection Laboratory at ACRE please remember that good pesticide inventory management and cleanliness go a long way towards creating a safe working environment. If you have pesticides inside the CPL; Check that your inventory sheet is up to date; Make sure each container has your initials or name on it and that each container is dated. Check the condition of each container. Place the containers on your assigned shelf and check that liquids have secondary spill pans. Do keep outdated or old pesticides. It is not safe to expose your workers or others to unnecessary exposure risks while working in the CPL, so keep it clean and practice good inventory management. Think, plan, train, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #62

When you come to ACRE or send workers to ACRE you should stop at the research building to check if the field you are going to has been sprayed and has a restricted re-entry interval or notice if any nearby fields are scheduled to be sprayed today. Before ACRE spray operators go to the field to spray pesticides they record the planned spray on the public bulletin board in the Research Building. To make it simple they even use colored maps to show which fields they are going to. Please stay out of fields where applications are scheduled or have been. It’s for your safety and it’s the law too. Think, plan, train, and work safely at ACRE.

Monday, March 28, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #61

I want to remind people about safety planning. (from #14) Researchers need to think about and prepare a “Project Specific Safety Plan” for your work at the ACRE. Do you have special hazards that should be addressed? Like tractor operation, moving PTO shafts, powered moving belts or pulleys, pinch points to avoid, stationary threshers, driving on the farm and to and from campus, etc. When packaging seed do you treat seed with a fungicide? Please identify hazards and train your people to work safely. A simple outline of your “Project Specific” safety points is an important start. If you use your word processing program even digital pictures can be added to the outline to help identify the hazards. Congratulations to people like Andy Linvill, Kiersten Wise, and Charles Woloshuk, who have initiated their own “Project Specific” safety programs. So think, plan, train, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Monday, March 21, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #60

Accidents can occur and do happen without warning. The consequences of minor injuries may be reduced by appropriate first aid. As an example, recently I smashed my big toe. Ouch! I immediately put a bag of ice on it. I elevated my foot and kept my toes iced on and off for the next few hours. Even though my toe was very sore, I reduced the potential damage significantly by actively administering appropriate first aid. My safety thought then is to have an action plan when something does happen. Know where to find your project’s first aid kit. Know that zip lock bags and ice are available in the shop’s break room. Decide if you need to call 911 or seek professional help. Finally, don’t forget to report the injury to you supervisor so that they can file a “First Report of Injury” form. For me that was the worst part, but I recovered from that embarrassment too. Think, plan, and work safely at ACRE Jim

Friday, March 18, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #59

Anhydrous Ammonia is a great source of nitrogen, but its use comes with additional exposure and risk factors. The physical characteristics of anhydrous ammonia cause users to handle it, in a way, like bottled propane. It is a liquid under pressure that boils off into the gas stage at a low temperature when released in the soil or air. Users must protect their eyes, skin, and airway from exposure. Users should carry a small eye wash bottle on their person. Users should have a supply of safety water on the applicator. Users must be aware of safe handling practices before applying anhydrous ammonia. The safety factor that helps make anhydrous ammonia a usable product is its terrible odor. The human body can sense ammonia at very low concentrations. When sensed by workers, they should seek escape from the concentrated area. If field workers are in an area when ammonia is being applied in a nearby field they should be aware of wind conditions and the odor of ammonia. Likewise applicators need to consider the exposure risk of nearby workers and delay application until the area is clear or ask those workers to leave the area until the application is complete. Think, plan, train, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Thursday, March 17, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #58

What is a pinch point? For work place purposes it is any place on a machine where a part of the body can get caught between two parts. Safety guards are most often used to shield workers from these hazards. But some pinch points are impossible to guard and require user judgment. An example is pinching your fingers or hand in a slammed doorway. Identified agricultural hazards at ACRE would include the area between a tractor and an implement. The risk hazard increases when hitching an implement to a tractor, especially if two people are involved. A direct line of sight is only one aspect that is critical to safe hitching. Another hazard is after a machine is stopped for repair or adjustment. It is critical that the energy of the machine be released or locked out. Remember every machine doing mechanical work can have pinch points. Injuries for powerful farm machinery can be very serious. So think, plan, train, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #57

Spring Fever will soon be here and so will be the use of farm tractors. It is important that tractor drivers are trained and familiar with safe tractor operations. The owner’s manual is a great place to find safe operation information. Some key points are 1) understand how to start and stop the tractor, 2)never allow riders unless the tractor has an approved “buddy” seat or unless you are training a new driver, 3)understand how to connect to an implement with a low hitch on the draw-bar only, 4)know the safe way to connect and use hydraulics, 5) be completely trained on the safe use of a PTO (power take-off), 6)know how to use dual brakes, 7)know when to lock the dual brakes together for road use, 8)avoid roll over accidents by slowing down on curves and being careful on hillsides, 9)use the tractor’s front-end loader as low as possible to keep the tractor stable, and 10)know the area where you will be using the tractor and scout it for hazards. Think, plan, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Monday, March 14, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #56

Spring weather means people will be doing spring cleaning at ACRE facilities. ACRE barns, storage areas, and indoor work spaces can present spring cleaning hazards if dust, mold, or rodent residue is present and left to decompose in the building. Dead mice or other frozen rodents need to cleaned-up before warm temperatures become standard. Some mice feces might harbor the “Hanta” virus, but not too commonly in Indiana. So wearing an appropriate mask in dusty, “mousey smelling” clean-up areas is a wise idea. Rubber “kitchen” gloves are good hand protection too. At any rate cleaning is very important. Dust can be reduced by using a sweeping compound and gently broom cleaning. Keep fresh air in the area. Avoid using a shop vacuum in closed spaces, since it creates very fine dust particles that can be inhaled easily. Bleach and soap can be used to kill germs. Items in storage that are wet should be dried immediately or thrown away to avoid mold growth later. My summary is that cleaning is important, so do it, but protect yourself in doing so. Think, plan, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Friday, March 11, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #55

With the busy planting season ahead, I know several researchers will be hooking up trailers and hauling equipment. I am reminded by Steve Hawkins that trailer safety is very critical. Now is the time to get the annual trailer inspection from Transportation Services. Steve pointed out the top 10 key safety areas that include; Proper sizing of truck to load pulled, proper sizing of the ball to the ball hitch receiver, placement of the load on the trailer for balance, trailer decking in good shape with safe loading techniques, securing the load adequately, working trailer lights, working brakes on the truck and trailer, proper use and size of safety chains, break-away safety brakes, and driver qualification and licensing. Thanks for the tips Steve. Think, plan, and work safely at ARCE. Jim

Thursday, March 10, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #54

I have more information about driving at Purdue. Employees, student employees, student drivers, and volunteers should already have completed and submitted forms RM01 and the USA General Release form or self evaluate. If you drive on University business in a University vehicle or your personal vehicle you need to meet “Minimum Driver Qualifications.” Make sure your employees comply too. See the web site for details. .http://www.purdue.edu/risk_mgmt/Vehicle_Use_Info/Welcome.html . . From the site you can click to; View the Policy Check the MVR Grading Grid for Minimum Driver Qualifications, and Find the USA General Release Form. Think, plan, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #53

If you drive a University vehicle the new Purdue Vehicle Use policy will affect you. See this web site for details; http://www.purdue.edu/risk_mgmt/Vehicle_Use_Info/Welcome.html A Motor Vehicle Record Check may be required or self evaluation. Student compliance is required. College of Ag faculty and staff compliance is required. If you drive your personal vehicle for work purposes you must comply with the policy too. I can’t fully explain all of the policy here, so check it out on the web. Think, plan, train, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought # 52

"I get hurt (non-emergency) on the job at ACRE. Where do I go?" The two approved care facilities in the West Lafayette campus area are; ** Clarian Arnett Occupational Health Center and ** Regional Occupational Care Center (ROCC). Remember that PUSH, Purdue University Health Center, is no longer the place to go with work related injuries. Think, plan, train, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Friday, March 4, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #51

“WPS Training” So what! Who cares! Society thinks it is so important that pesticides be used safely, that an EPA law requires anyone working in a field at the ACRE to have safety training before starting work. So REM makes training available. The training is good for 5 years. REM trainers conduct many of the sessions in the Agronomy Conference room. Supervisors of newly hired employees can ask for us to arrange and advertise the training. There really is no excuse for not getting the training. Think, plan, and work safely at ACRE. Jim

Thursday, March 3, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought #50

“Electric Shock!” is not my idea of a good time. So if you are using an extension cord at ACRE, then make sure to use one of the new type extension cords with GFI protection built in. Or make sure you are using a GFI protected electrical circuit. GFI stands for “Ground Fault Interrupter” and the technology helps prevent shocks and electrocution. Also never use an extension cord that is frayed or has bare wires. Make sure the cord you use is rated for the amperage load that you will be using, as undersized cords can overheat and be dangerous. Think, plan, and work safely at ACRE Jim

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

ACRE Safety Thought # 49

Cold weather sample processing at the ACRE can be challenging. Plant threshers or corn shellers can create dust. On a very cold day, in a closed barn or building this creates a dilemma as the air gets dusty and is miserable to inhale or the exhaust fans discharge so much air that the heating system can not keep up. If supplemental heat is required, it is critical that it be provided in a safe way. Always follow the owner’s manual precautions when using supplemental heat. If in doubt, then ask for a qualified opinion from a Purdue Fire Protection expert. They know the rules for safety. Additionally, it is critical that all shelling dust and plant material be cleaned from the area, especially on or around the heat source. Remember that this dust is not only combustible but when air borne can become explosive at the correct mixture and the supplemental heat source can be the ignition source. So think, plan, and work safely at ACRE. Jim