You know when spring is here and fieldwork has picked up, so does the potential for farm accidents.
Approximately 5% of the accidents on the farm are livestock related, 19% come from machinery and about 36% involve tractors. Agriculture has the highest death rate of any industry in the United States. Approximately 1,600 deaths and 1,600,000 injuries occur each year due to farm work accidents. Do not blame the farm machinery or structures since the human element is usually the underlying cause of a farm accident.
Stress always has been a major factor in farm and ranch accidents. This culprit shows up when farmers and ranchers try to do too much in too short a time.
If at all possible, farmers should try to find additional help during their busy times. They also should take time out to relax a couple times during long days.
Head injuries are a common occurrence on the farm and tend to be serious. When doing work that might involve possible head injury, trade your familiar farm cap or straw hat for a hard hat.
When spraying herbicides and insecticides overhead, wear a wide brimmed hat that will not allow liquids to seep through. Make sure the brim is wide enough to keep chemical spray from drifting down over the back of the neck or face.
Eyes have been called the "window to the soul," but just like all windows they can break, if something is hurled, splashed or sprayed into them. Safety goggles should be just as much a part of your daily clothing as a good pair of steel toed shoes. Sunglasses are important also, because they lessen eye fatigue after long hours in the bright spring and summer sun.
While people often consider the farm a place of quiet tranquility, many farmers experience hearing loss. As a rule of thumb, farmers should have ear protection whenever the noise level reaches 85 decibels. Since farmers don't carry testing equipment to measure decibel levels, they should wear protection when in doubt about the noise level. Earmuffs are better than earplugs, because earplugs can cause compaction of ear-wax that is difficult to remove.
If you plan to stay in the sun most of the day, wear long-sleeved cotton clothing. Natural fibers allow the skin to breathe and offer protection from the sun's harmful rays. Loose fitting clothes remain a health hazard. Avoid wearing sweats with long drawstrings that hang from the waist or around the neck. These strings are made of extremely strong nylon or other artificial fibers. Such fibers don't rip or tear as easily as clothing made of cotton. It is easy for dangling drawstrings to catch in augers or other moving parts.
Shoes and boots can provide foot protection and traction. Make certain your shoes are clean of mud, manure or oil that can cause you to slip and fall. Proper fit is important for daylong comfort and stability. When spraying chemicals, wear waterproof footwear that won't absorb chemicals.
Rings on a farmer's hand can hang up on bolts, sharp corners or just about anything you find around the farm. Always remove them and other loose fitting jewelry, such as a watch. Failure to do so can result in an injury to fingers or other limbs.
Without a doubt, safely dressed farmers seldom make the fashion pages of People magazine or even the local paper, but you won't find them on the obituary pages either.
Dress Safely and Have a Great Spring