Here is some of the advice offered by presenters at a Fresno program on safety when operating mechanical harvesters for wine and raisin grapes.

  • Fasten your seat belt if you are operating a tractor that has a rollover protection structure. It can prevent injury by avoiding being jostled about within the device or thrown from it.
  • Avoid operating tractors near ditches, embankments and holes. And stay off slopes that are too steep.
  • Keep guards and shield on harvesters at all times. Always shut off the engine and wait for all movement to stop before removing guards and shields.
  • Keep hands, feet and clothing away from power-driven parts, including the picking mechanism, blowers and conveyors while the engine is running.
  • Do not clean, lubricate or adjust the harvester when it is running.
  • Before leaving the harvester unattended, engage the parking brake, shut off the engine and remove the keys. Never leave a harvester in an area accessible by children.
  • Sound the horn twice to warn others before starting a harvester’s engine.
  • Survey the area to be harvested for low hanging limbs, wires or other obstacles that will obstruct the path of the harvester or gondola.
  • To avoid electrocution and machine damage, do not operate harvesters or gondolas within 15 feet of electrical wires.
  • With continuous paper tray machines, it’s better to load or unload the paper in a cradle outside of the machine.
  • It’s best to use eye protection and possibly a respirator because of dust created in some harvesting operations.
  • If you see an electrical wire on the ground, call 911 or the utility company such as Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
  • If a vehicle hits a power wire, jump from it and do not touch it once outside of the vehicle. If you dig up a piece of cable, call for help and either remain on the tractor or jump clear of it.
  • When operating over-sized, slow-moving equipment on roadways, try to pull over to let drivers pass, but be aware of clearances from ditches or canals.