by Thomas Haus, MD, Family Medicine
Have you stopped to think about the fact that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations? Farmers are exposed to mechanical, chemical, and environmental hazards every day, in addition to being physically demanding. The good news is that farm-related accidents are preventable. Proper safety precautions and procedures need to be used by all workers, family members and visitors at all times. Everyone needs to understand the risks.
12 Tips to Make Your Farm a Safer Place to Live and Work:
- Walk around your farm on a regular basis and assess potential dangers. You know your farm like the back of your hand, so enlist the help of others. They may see something you’ve missed.
- Do not let young children play around machinery, chemicals, or animals that may cause them harm. Create a safe and contained play area for kids.
- Make sure everyone working on the farm is trained in first aid.
- Keep all equipment in good repair, including yourself. Feeling fatigue while operating machinery can be dangerous.
- Store dangerous items such as machinery, firearms, and chemicals behind locked doors and remove keys to a safe place.
- Install a ROPS (Roll-Over Protection Structure) and seatbelts to tractors.
- Replace dangerous chemicals with less toxic varieties. Stay educated on the best way to handle all chemicals.
- If you ‘almost’ get hurt, write it down. Keeping a log of injuries and “near misses” is a great way to pinpoint areas for improvement.
- Always use appropriate safety equipment, such as machinery guards and shields, helmets, gloves, hearing protection, safety goggles, and non-slip shoes.
- If using four-wheelers, make sure you are using them wisely and not for thrills. Children should not be allowed to drive or ride on an ATV.
- Avoid fall injuries by using equipment and safety measures to prevent falls.
- Write a safety plan that includes ways to identify the hazards and minimize potential risks. Make sure everyone understands and uses safety procedures, including children.
Many of these suggestions are appropriate for any home or business, not just the farm. Remember, it is much easier to prevent an injury than to recover from one.