Safely Extract Stuck Equipment
When it comes to extracting or pulling stuck equipment out of the mud, a ditch or whatever, safety should be a main concern.
“We need the guys and gals to think a little bit …There is more to it than just hooking and pulling,” said Fred Whitford, Purdue University Extension, a pesticide programs coordinator, during the National Agronomic, Environmental, Health and Safety School held in the summer.
Reminders of safety during the late fall and winter for pulling equipment out of field ditches and mud holes by company employees seems appropriate timing.
When pulling equipment that won’t budge, and a chain or pull strap breaks, the tendency is for either one to fly toward the rear or front window of a vehicle, especially if it is a pickup doing the pulling. And that broke chain or strap is very dangerous to anyone nearby, too.
Whitford talked about fatalities and major injuries that happen all the time because people fail to use good judgment and the right tools. Whitford highlighted a few of the topics covered in the Purdue Extension booklet titled, Extracting Stuck Equipment Safely, which is available for downloading or purchase via www.the-educationstore.com.
CHAINS NOT RECOMMENDED
Not recommended for use in extraction is what has traditionally been used throughout history—a link chain. There are reasons that chains are not recommended today. They often are not rated for pulling the weight involved, and they often are in poorly maintained shape with stretched links or hooks not matched to the chain strength. A chain also causes a jolt as it is pulled taught, which doesn’t occur with new technology extraction tools.
Chains are traditional farmer tools found in almost every working farmer pickup, but today, chains should be replaced with “recovery straps” for most jobs.
As a general statement, Whitford said, “Nobody knows the strength of the chains they have in their trucks.” Strength rating requires checking the markings on the chain and hook, and low-rated chains are very common. “If you are going to use a chain, at least use good quality chains instead of junk,” he said.
A recovery strap is not a tow strap. Whitford said tow ropes “are worthless” for extractions. A tow row/strap comes with hook hardware attached in most cases, and a tow strap doesn’t stretch; it tears. The stretching is the most important aspect of a recovery strap for use in extracting equipment.
“I picked up a 110,000 pound rated tow rope the other day, but it was still a tow rope,” he said. A comparably rated recovery strap is still the proper tool because of its rubberband-type stretch.