6 Birkey’s Service Techs Share Farm Safety Tips

Farm safety is a critical topic.


It’s an unfortunate truth: if you’re reading this, chances are you know a family that has been affected by a farm-related accident. The good news is, many steps have been taken to make the industry safer, including the creation of National Farm Safety Week. This year, the week of September 21-27 gives the ag community the chance to focus on safety.

Safety is high priority at Birkey’s–it has to be. The majority of farm accidents involve the use of machinery, and 90% of our employees work on or around machinery every day.

When asked about farm safety, many Birkey’s employees had stories to tell or reminders to offer to customers and friends. Here are tips from six service techs:


James Lozier, Service Tech in Bloomington

James Lozier, Service Tech in Bloomington

James Lozier, Bloomington

Keep safety shields in place

“In the shop, I see a lot of machines with the safety shields removed—for example, chain and belt guards on combines, or the shields around PTOs. I know farmers remove them because it’s easier to see things when the shields are off, and it makes for a quicker walk around. But there’s a reason those parts are there.”

“On the same topic, oftentimes, when these parts break, they won’t be repaired. It might seem like folks are saving time or money, but it’s a safety risk.”

Check your lights

“I also like to remind producers to do a light check before they drive on the road. Make sure your headlight, taillights, flashers, and turn signals all work. This is an easy check to do, and can save someone from rear-ending you on the highway.”

Kevin Engel, Service Manager in Galesburg

Kevin Engel, Service Manager in Galesburg

Kevin Engel, Galesburg

Keep a fire extinguisher on hand

Having a working fire extinguisher around can keep a bad situation from becoming much worse.

Newer Case IH combines come with two class ABC extinguishers. A class ABC extinguisher is best, because it can put out all types of fires: trash, liquids like grease, oil, or gas, and electrical. If your machine didn’t come with fire extinguishers, you can buy a kit from Birkey’s or from a local fire equipment company. I recommend mounting one by the ladder and one by the engine compartment.

Inspect all the fire extinguishers on the combines before season. Make sure they’re all in the green zone. If you have any questions, take them to a fire equipment company for service.

Drew Seck, Service Tech in Macomb

Drew Seck, Service Tech in Macomb

Drew Seck, Macomb

Don’t wear loose clothing

“Loose article of clothing, long hair, or strings on your sweatshirt hood can easily get tied up in a machine’s moving parts, especially if you’re walking around looking for a problem or noise.”

“When we have an issue with a combine—or any piece of equipment—we’re often frustrated and in a hurry. We’re more worried about finding the problem than being safe. Be safe ahead of time: don’t wear loose clothing when you go out. That way you won’t have to worry about it in these stressful situations.”

Harley Hawk, Service Tech in Williamsport

Harley Hawk, Service Tech in Williamsport

Harley Hawk, Williamsport

Engage safety stand before doing header maintenance

“Even if you’re in a hurry, never crawl under a header without a safety stand.”

“When you get underneath your cornhead or platform for maintenance, be sure to lock your feeder house up. Never trust the hydraulic system. It can fail. Make sure you secure the header latch, safety stand or any other block before working on the header or on parts beneath or behind it.”

Dillon Brazelton, Oakland

Slow down for intersections on county roads

“Last fall, I had an experience that scared me. I had a very close call with another driver at the intersection of a small county road. We were both slamming on the brakes and swerving. When I came to a stop, I backed up, got out, and looked at the intersection. It wasn’t marked with any signs.

“All these county roads that ‘never have traffic’—well, they do right now. This time of year, we’re all on the road hustling to brings parts out or to service machines in the field. Many small county roads don’t have stop or yield signs, and you can’t see someone coming around blind corners until you’re on top of them. Be careful. Treat all intersections like there is a yield sign and slow down before you cross.”

Rick Webster, Service Tech in Annawan

Rick Webster, Service Tech in Annawan

Rick Webster, Annawan

Stay safe while harvesting hooked corn

“Up in our area, we had a windstorm last month. It blew a lot of corn down, and much of it is hooked. There are a couple reasons this can be a safety hazard.”

“First, in these conditions, there’s a potential of plugging on top of the corn head. Some growers will walk along the corn head and push stuff through. To do this, farmers will have to walk through cornstalks that have already been cut. With today’s hybrids, the corn stalks are very stiff, and it’s easy to trip. Walking along the combine is a dangerous way to deal with hooked corn.

“Second, combining in these conditions can be stressful and frustrating. Even if you’re going slow, it’s important to keep your head about you and follow basic farm safety. If the corn head is plugged with trash, it’s best to separate it from the combine to clean it. Don’t oil chains out in the field while the machine is running, and don’t get in the grain tank. Most farmers know not to do this, but I’ve seen it happen while the machine was running. You might be in a hurry and think, ‘It won’t happen to me, I’m careful’—but this is a very hazardous situation and should be avoided.”

Safety at Birkey’s

One of Birkey’s HR team, Cecilia Miller, shared about Birkey’s approach to safety, and how the company maintains a safe workplace and follows OSHA guidelines.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility. It is the desire of Birkey’s to provide a safe working environment for all employees.

  • Our employees attend safety meetings where they learn about our safety practices and procedures. These include topics on fire safety, slips trips and falls, weather emergency safety, health safety, and driving safety.
  • Our employees also receive training on forklift driving requirements, how to read MSDS forms, and accident reporting procedures.
  • Managers are required to conduct a “hands on” demonstration on the safe use of tools, machinery, and equipment that is used by the employees. Special instructions and emphasis is placed on safety devices.
  • Employees are also required to have a clean driving record in order to drive one of our vehicles.

Other resources:

By : Birkey's /September 23, 2014 /Agriculture, Birkey's, Case IH, Farm equipment, Illinois, Indiana, Recent News, Tech Tip /0 Comment Read More

Get the Right Part, the First Time

Corey Volker helps a customer at the parts counter

“I need that small sprocket for the big chain on the feeder house of my combine.”

This actual description from a customer didn’t keep Corey Volker, Birkey’s parts manager in Gibson City, from finding the correct part. Do you know what it was? (Answer is below)

His success is no surprise. The men and women in Birkey’s parts department see it as their personal mission to solve problems for customers—to find the right part, the first time. (more…)

By : Birkey's /September 12, 2014 /Uncategorized /0 Comment Read More

Photo Contest Gallery

Photos will be judged this coming week!

We’ll award 1 grand prize winner, and 4 honorable mentions.

The contest officially ends on Wednesday, September 10 at 11:59 p.m. After this date, photos will be judged by ­a third-party professional photographer. The winner will be notified in the September 16 email newsletter, and in a Facebook post on Wednesday, September 17.

Below you’ll find all the entries to our contest over the past few weeks. For more information about the contest, visit this page. (more…)

By : Birkey's /September 08, 2014 /Uncategorized /0 Comment Read More

Toy Tractor “Models Matter”

Toy Tractor Photo Contest Challenge 3: Models Matter

August 27 – September 2

Models matter. For many farmers, the tractors owned as a child or young adult are special. Post a picture of yourself with a toy tractor that’s the same model as one that you once owned or operated.

Read a feature story about one photo entry, and see the gallery of entries below. (more…)

By : Birkey's /September 02, 2014 /Birkey's, Case IH, Illinois, Indiana, People /2 Comments Read More

Farmers From Down Under

Case IH Dealers from Australia Visit Birkey’s


On a tour at Birkey’s in Bloomington

This August, a group from Case IH dealerships in Australia stopped by Birkey’s on a tour through the Midwest. 

They shared facts about agriculture in Australia and learned about farming in Illinois and Indiana, especially on the topic of Precision Farming. The group also received a tour of Birkey’s in Bloomington. (more…)

By : Birkey's /August 28, 2014 /Uncategorized /0 Comment Read More

AFS Tech Tip: Setting Up Your Combine Monitor For Variety Tracking

Precision Farming Basics: Setting Up Your Combine Monitor for Variety Tracking

This is our third video in a series on Variety Tracking. Variety tracking allows producers to take information about the varieties they planted and move that data to their combine for harvest. If you haven’t already, watch our Downloading Planting Data video and Preparing Variety Tracking Data for Transfer to a Combine video to get caught up to speed.

In this video, Birkey’s Precision Farming Specialist, Todd Weitekamp, demonstrates how to use a Pro 600 or Pro 700 display monitor for variety tracking. (more…)

By : Birkey's /August 25, 2014 /Uncategorized /0 Comment Read More