Farm workers, including farm families and migrant workers, are exposed to the following hazards:
- Chemicals & Pesticides
- Grain bins
- Hand tools
- Highway traffic
Other hazards include livestock handling, machinery and equipment, manure pits- the list goes on.
The following factors may increase risk of injury or illness for farm workers:
- Age: injury rates are highest among children age 15 and under and adults over 65.
- Equipment and Machinery: Most farm accidents and fatalities involve machinery. Proper machine guarding and doing equipment maintenance according to manufacturers’ recommendations can help prevent accidents.
- Protective Equipment: Using protective equipment, such as seat belts on tractors, and personal protective equipment (such as gloves, coveralls, boots, hats, aprons, goggles, face shields) could significantly reduce farming injuries.
- Medical care: Hospitals and emergency medical care are typically not readily accessible in rural areas near farms.
How you can improve farm safety
- Read and follow instructions in equipment operator’s manuals and on product labels.
- Inspect equipment routinely for problems that may cause accidents.
- Discuss safety hazards and emergency procedures with your workers.
- Install approved rollover protective structures, protective enclosures, or protective frames on tractors.
- Make sure that guards on farm equipment are replaced after maintenance.
- Review and follow instructions in material safety data sheets and on labels that come with chemical products and communicate information on these hazards to your workers.
- Take precautions to prevent entrapment and suffocation caused by unstable surfaces of grain storage bins, silos, or hoppers. Never “walk the grain.”
- Be aware that methane gas, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide can form in unventilated grain silos and manure pits and can suffocate or poison workers or explode.
- Take advantage of safety equipment, such as bypass starter covers, power take-off master shields, and slow-moving vehicle emblems.
*Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
For more farm safety facts and resources, visit http://www.ruralins.com/farmsafety.