Edwin Brokesh 2017-10-25 01:54:52
Imagine that it’s late evening, during harvest season, on a rural road. The driver of a minivan, carrying a youth soccer team, is running late and taking an unfamiliar shortcut. On the same rural road, a local farmer, tired and hungry at the end of a long day, is maneuvering a large piece of equipment from one field to another. These two vehicles are about to meet, in dim light, on this lonely stretch of road. Their meeting is a non-event because each driver sees the other one coming and takes the appropriate action. The driver of the minivan sees the lights and markings on the farm equipment and moves to the right to make room. The farmer sees the minivan and does the same. The drivers pass each other safely, without incident, and go on about their business. Non-events like this happen every day across our nation and around the world thanks to the work of standards organizations like ASABE. The driver of the minivan, in this scenario, relied on the work of ASABE Standards Committee MS23/4/3, better known as the Lighting and Marking Committee. This committee is responsible for ASABE Standard S279, which is the guiding standard used by manufactures for the lighting and marking of agricultural equipment in the U.S. This standard is now the basis for a federal law, the Agricultural Machinery Illumination and Safety Act (AMISA). Why was this law necessary? Because today’s farmers are moving large equipment on public roads more often and for greater distances, often crossing state lines in the process. State legislatures recognized this potential hazard, and they considered enacting laws to govern the marking of agricultural equipment. However, at the state level, that approach could have resulted in fifty different lighting and marking configurations for farmers and manufactures to comply with. Drivers on public roads would have encountered these fifty different lighting and marking configurations, sowing confusion and decreasing the safety of everyone involved. AMISA preempts all state or local laws, ensuring that manufacturers and farmers must comply with just one law nationwide. A farmer can drive equipment across a state line without concern that his properly marked equipment will be in violation of another state’s law. Agriculture has long had innovative manufacturers building useful machines that must occasionally travel on public roads. Do these machines need to comply with the law? Yes, any new agricultural equipment manufactured after the effective date of AMISA must comply with this new law. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the ASABE Lighting and Marking Committee are working to develop materials to provide guidance on marking machines properly. ASABE standards, such as S279, make agriculture safer for farmers and for the general public. It’s hard to appreciate the positive impact of these safety standards because nothing bad happens when equipment is used properly. Like the example of the minivan and the farmer at the beginning of this article, non-events are the ultimate goal of safety standards. ASABE will continue to work to make every farm safety event a non-event. ASABE member Edwin Brokesh, P.E., Instructor, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Kansas State University, Manhattan, USA, email@example.com. ASABE Standard S279 ASABE creates high-quality standards like S279 through a 12-step process that is recognized by ISO. Throughout the standards development process, stakeholders from all aspects of the topic are brought together to provide input, and no standard can be created without all parties involved. For ASABE Standard S279, safety professionals from industry, from academia, and end users were brought together to develop a standard that would use the best current technology for lighting and marking of agricultural equipment. S279 was first published in 1954, and it has been regularly updated. The current published standard is the 16th revision. The work of the ASABE Lighting and Marking Committee continues, making the standard easier to use and incorporating the latest lighting and marking technology. As safety needs change, S279 will change to meet those needs. AMISA The Agricultural Machinery Illumination and Safety Act (AMISA) was signed into law in July 2012. The U.S. Department of Transportation spent four years considering how to apply the law and ultimately determined that ASABE Standard S279 should be applied as written. That is a testament to the quality of ASABE Standards. AMISA became effective on June 22, 2017. All new agricultural equipment put into service in the U.S. after that date must meet the AMISA requirements. Most U.S. manufacturers have been using ASABE Standard S279 for many years and therefore are already compliant with AMISA. Farmers who buy equipment from these manufacturers are automatically in compliance. The result is that AMISA will ensure consistent lighting and marking of agricultural equipment, with little impact on most farmers and equipment manufacturers. See the following feature for a Q&A on AMISA.
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