Safety Tips for Your Farm
By Erika Owen and Jodi Henke
Keeping your family safe is the first priority on your farm. Here are some tips to help you meet that goal.
First, make sure you have enough fire extinguishers and first aid supplies on hand, and check to make sure they haven’t expired, says Tom Karsky, Extension safety specialist at the University of Idaho.
“Things in the shop, such as tools and cords, should be in good shape,” he says. He also recommends replacing all the guards on machinery if damaged.
Pesticides and chemicals should be stored in a dry place and out of reach of children.
Make sure your family knows where the power switches are for all types of equipment.
Break your checklist into manageable tasks. “Prioritize things and work on the ones that need the most attention,” Karsky says. “If there’s a slow period when everyone happens to be around, you can do a short little walk-around.” You can also cover one part of the operation – such as the shop – first and then another part next month.
Mold spores, gases, and other organic dusts are harmful to breathe in and are abundant on working farms.
Carolyn Sheridan, clinical director for AgriSafe, says these particles can settle deep inside the lungs and cause long-term chronic lung disease “or an acute episode where someone may have fever, chills, nausea, and shortness of breath. People feel like they have the flu,” Sheridan says.
The first step in defending yourself is to wear a NIOSH-approved mask, says Sheridan. “That means the research has been done to show that this mask will protect you from the hazard. For most exposures, look for an N-95 printed somewhere on the box or on the mask. That tells you it’s 95% efficient.”
Discourage mold growth by harvesting and storing grain at the recommended moisture content. Follow the labels on all chemicals and avoid working in tight spaces with limited air circulation.Winter tractor safety
A tractor that’s being used for snow removal must have a rollover protective structure (ROPS), says Mark Hanna, Extension ag engineer at Iowa State University.
“It’s relatively common that the tractor’s not going to be on a level roadway but on a side slope,” says Hanna. “Maybe you’re pushing snow around and don’t know where the edge of the embankment is.”
Surfaces can be slick, which adds to the instability. Hanna says even though you’ll be driving the tractor slower than usual, it can still skid off the road if it hits a patch of ice.
Always take extra precautions when working with your tractor’s snow-removal equipment. Don’t rush. That can make the task even more dangerous.