People often think of agricultural work as just being out in the fresh air amid peaceful surroundings and going about your chores. But the truth is that farms and ranches can be dangerous places with many hazards, some obvious and others that aren’t. Machinery, chemicals, electricity, and water all pose potential risks.
The men and women who work in agriculture also have to go out in any weather. It’s important to wear the right gear and follow safety precautions. One of the problems is that many farmworkers are brought up in the farm environment and can take the equipment for granted, which can lead to accidents.
When you’re getting ready to work on a farm or ranch, you obviously need to dress for the weather conditions. If you work with machinery, you shouldn’t wear any loose clothing that could get caught by moving parts. Remove all your jewelry, as necklaces and rings can cause injury if they get caught. If you don’t want to take off your wedding ring, wrap some tape around it. If you’ve got long hair, tie it up or push it under your hat.
Your feet are very vulnerable to injury from falling objects or machinery — even being trodden on by animals. Wear high-quality steel-toed work boots and, if you work around electricity, they should be electrical hazard rated.
Personal Protective Equipment:
It’s important to wear the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for the hazards you work with. For chemicals, a protective suit, gloves, and a chemical respirator should be worn. Around machinery, eye and hearing protection can save you from damage. Even working in a dusty barn can affect your health, so a mask that covers your nose and mouth should always be used.
Machinery and Vehicles:
All machinery and vehicles should be well maintained. Any broken safety guards should be repaired or replaced. Before getting off a tractor, disengage the power take-off (PTO) and turn off the engine. When hitching a tractor to an implement, never put yourself or anyone else in between the two pieces of equipment. Tractor rollovers are all too common, so make yourself aware of the vehicle’s limitations.
Keep Kids Safe:
Through the eyes of a kid, farm buildings and machinery look like a fabulous playground. If they see you casually using the equipment, they might think it’s OK to use it themselves. The best way is to not let them climb on machinery, even if it’s not being used. Never leave running machinery unattended.
Kids love to climb, so lock away portable ladders and block off fixed ladders. Lock silos and grain bins to stop your children from exploring them. Cap unused tanks and wells, and tell kids about the dangers of ponds and streams. Don’t let them ride on tractors or other vehicles that aren’t designed for passengers.
Look After Yourself:
Agricultural work is tough. Make sure you get enough sleep, as using machinery when you’re tired is dangerous. Take breaks from work, and stay hydrated.
It’s easy to be complacent at work, but following these basic safety precautions will help protect you and your family.