Cotton pickers are very large, costly, complex machines that create blind spots for an operator. Take these steps before starting or operating any cotton picker:
- Read and understand the operator’s manual and the basic safety and operating procedures provided with the harvester.
- Establish procedures and then train and retrain all personnel on how row units will be serviced; how they are to be locked when raised for maintenance; how baskets, chambers, and trampers will be operated during service; and when and how the picker transmission, brakes, etc., are to be positioned if the operator leaves the picker seat.
- Keep windows and mirrors clean for good visibility.
- Keep all lighting and alarms in proper working order.
- Scrape mud from shoes before climbing on the picker.
- When climbing or descending a ladder, face the ladder with both hands on the handrails.
- Be sure that other personnel in the area are free and clear of the picker by loudly calling “Clear,” and wait to hear a response before starting the engine or moving the picker.
- Always engage controls gently and smoothly.
Avoid Potential Hazards
- Block or lock any raised component so it cannot be accidentally lowered when working around or under the component.
- Get assistance to back the picker when it must be reversed to ensure avoiding all personnel, parked vehicles and equipment, and other obstacles.
- Always be alert for and avoid contact with overhead obstacles such as overhanging trees, power lines, cables, etc.
- Never raise a basket or module chamber near overhead power lines.
- Never position a module where the retrieving truck will be forced to raise under wires or obstacles.
- Always lower baskets or module trampers and chambers to their lowest positions before travel to and from the field.
- Travel at safe speeds on the road and field/turn row for conditions.
- Use an escort and turn on all (flashing) lights when traveling on public roads.
- Never attempt to clear a choke from a machine while it is powered.
- Never park an idling picker or other support equipment where the exhaust is released toward a nearby module.
- Pickers should have at least one 10-pound ABC fire extinguisher located near the exterior of the cab door and one 20-pound ABC fire extinguisher located on the left side near the engine compartment, accessible from the ground. Plan, train employees, and practice how to use fire extinguishers, the spindle solution, and any other practices to control fire on the picker. Inspect and service fire extinguishers before each harvest season begins and replace any extinguisher that was used.
- Never enter a basket or chamber suspected of containing fire. Upon first indication of fire, move the picker to a nearby area free of combustible material that can provide fuel or allow the fire to spread. Unload the seed cotton immediately. Identify the location and extent of the fire. Extinguish the fire with the correct procedure and extinguisher. See the operator’s manual for specific recommendations for your picker. Operator Safety
- Wash hands and immediately treat any cuts or scrapes that break the skin. Many bacteria living on plant materials or in the trash in a row unit may cause serious infections when cuts are left uncleaned and untreated. Spindle solution is a quick, convenient hand-cleansing option. However, you need better cleansing and antiseptic supplies to curb potentially serious infection.
- Ensure that everyone is safely out of harm’s way before unloading or moving any picker.
- Get assistance and establish a procedure both of you understand if it is necessary to power row units while washing or blowing trash from cabinets. Never wedge the tether behind steps or otherwise run row units in a “constant on” condition when servicing or cleaning.
- Find a secure location away from traffic and potential sources of fire and clear of grass and weeds. Lower all raised components to their lowest positions. Turn off all power, remove the key, and lock the cab when leaving the picker for extended periods of time.