Agriculture related injuries are pervasive and a real danger to the wellbeing of your farm personnel. In 2017, 416 farmers and farm workers died from a work-related injury, the leading cause being tractor overturns, followed by animal injuries, asphyxiation, falls, and entanglements. But there are simple steps you can take to ensure the safety of all patrons and staff of your enterprise.
Here are 5 ways you can build a safer farm:
1. Make and Follow Machinery Guidelines
Have a clear guide to using all machinery and equipment on the farm that is accessible to you, your family, and employees. This guide should be based off the manual of the unit and should include all federal and state regulations as well as general practices.
In addition to having a standard of usage, taking the extra step to add preventative measures onto your machinery can mean life or death. Roll Over Protection Structures (ROPS), shields, proper warning signage, regular maintenance, and a built in first aid kit can be vital when out on the farm.
Ag-injuries are unfortunate, but disregarding the manuals and regulations can detriment your ability to receive compensation, so it is better to follow the rules as closely as possible.
2. Use a Buddy System
Using a buddy system is a simple yet effective way to ensure safety on the farm.
- It creates accountability where both parties agree to assist and monitor each other’s adherence to regulations
- If one person is injured or stuck, the other is there to provide immediate aid
- In the event of an accident, there is a secondary witness present who can supplement the required paperwork
- More eyes on the area means twice the awareness to potential hazards
A buddy system is most commonly seen in grain bins, whereby a second individual is present to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the primary employee in the grain bin.This can be applicable to any action on the farm and in any other working area.
3. Educate yourself, your workers, and your family
Proper education is the key to a safer farm and it is important to have a serious conversation with everyone on the property, from your family and workers to guests and neighbors. Create clear rules for conduct around large machinery and animals as well as develop labels, warnings, and signs around hazardous areas.
Design a training that is tailored to each position, area, and piece of equipment and restrict un-trained personnel from these units. In addition, make sure that if the machinery needs to be operated by a licensed or certified professional, they are solely operated by these certified bodies
4. Be physically and mentally prepared for a day at the farm
Physical preparedness includes wearing clothes free of loose fabric or laces that could possibly result in a machinery entanglement accident. But, this also includes sun protection, respiration masks, and ear protection. While we have focused strongly on trauma injuries, cancers, hearing loss, and respiratory disease is often overlooked and we are frequently under prepared.
Mental preparedness means being well-rested for the operation of equipment and working on hazardous sites. Making sure you and your staff are drinking enough water and eating sufficient meals will help your team remain alert and capable for the day. Make sure you take the time to think about how you are feeling, and try to avoid burnout. Accidents can happen when your mind is elsewhere.
5. Keep children out of the way
No matter how much your child enjoys driving a tractor, it is not worth putting them in danger. About 300 farm youth (20 and under) die each year from farm injuries and 23,500 suffer nonfatal injuries.
The most common of these injuries is tractors followed by wagons and combines.
A general practice should be to keep all farm youth away from hazardous areas, restrict them from operating any machinery, and supervise their activities. This goes further than just restriction; take time to properly educate your youth in a comprehensive way so they understand that the farm is not all fun and games.
National Farm Safety and Heath Week
, which is led by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS)
aims to raise awareness of the hazards and risks of agricultural work every 3rd week of September through webinars, public service announcements, and many industry collaborations.
From the NECAS website about this year's theme.
The theme for National Farm Safety and Health Week 2020 is “Every Farmer Counts”. The theme is to acknowledge, celebrate, and uplift America’s farmers and ranchers who have encountered many challenges over the past couple of years, yet continue to work hard to provide the food, fiber, and fuel that we need. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, there are about 3.4 million agricultural producers in America, which is only about one percent of our population. These farmers and ranchers not only provide the essentials that we need, but they do wonderful things for their families and friends, their communities, and beyond. That is why “Every Farmer Counts” and now is the time to prioritize their safety and health.