Farm safety risks for women

A woman on the farm takes on several roles – caretaker, farm worker, and she probably has an off-farm job as well. The balancing act can lead to safety risks, putting her health in jeopardy.

The 2017 ag census says 31% of farmers are women. But safety education in agriculture is often aimed at men in farming operations, and most farm tools and equipment are geared toward the male physique.

Knesha Rose-Davison is the health communications director for the AgriSafe Network. She says women are suffering from ergonomic issues.

"Dealing with the equipment, and then the upper body and core strength associated with work on the farm. Like if you’re doing repetitive motion, we’re seeing neck injuries, shoulder injuries, hand and wrist injuries, lower back pain," says Rose-Davison. "It’s mostly all associated with ergonomics, so repetitive motions or just kind of the physical strength that’s associated with work on the farm."

She says they’re also looking at reproductive issues from lingering effects of chemical exposure.

"If you are not pregnant but in the pre-conception period when you’re not even thinking about pregnancy, if you’re working with certain chemicals, pesticides, that could have impact on your reproductive health. So, you want to be mindful of making sure that you’re reading labels of things that you’re working with, making sure that you’re wearing the proper protective equipment," she says. "You shouldn’t be working with needles if you’re working with livestock, especially if it’s with hormones and you’re pregnant."

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