Farm and Ranch Safety

Source: oticki - 123RF

Each day approximately 100 injuries happen to agricultural workers that result in lost work time, according to data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Deaths are not uncommon in agriculture either, with 417 people dying in 2016, resulting in a death rate of 21.4 deaths per 100,000 workers.

NIOSH indicates the vast majority of these deaths were a result from vehicle rollovers. Farm safety is vital to all farm stakeholders from owners to managers to employees to visitors.

According to Ag Web, especially prior to planting and harvesting seasons, crop and livestock farmers should take appropriate steps to make sure they are operating in a safe manner and inspect all equipment and procedures.

Nationally, there were 4,821 fatal workplace injuries in 2014, 17 percent of which involved contractors and more than 20 percent of which involved the construction sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Twenty-six out of every 100,000 farmers died of a workplace injury in 2014, the sixth-highest rate of any profession.

However, experts say many such fatalities can be avoided if workers follow basic construction and farming safety precautions.

One area farmers often don’t see the immediate danger from is loud noises, and high or low frequencies impacts on their hearing. Prolonged and repeated exposure can cause tiny hairs in the inner ear to become damaged, which impacts normal hearing.

Flowing grain can be deadly and acts like quicksand. In less than 20 seconds, an adult can get completely engulfed by it and suffocate. lists the following safety tips for the farming community:

1. Maintain your equipment. Most farm accidents and deaths involve outdated machinery that lack safety features. Make sure your equipment is maintained according to the manufacturers’ recommendations to prevent tractor rollovers and accidents.

2. Make sure you understand how to safely handle chemicals. Keep chemicals in their original, marked containers. Make sure everyone working on your farm is trained in safely handling them and understands emergency procedures.

3. Be alert on the road. Most accidents happen at dawn or dusk, as they are peak commuting times for drivers. They occur most often when a driver attempts to pass a slow-moving vehicle, or does not realize a farmer is turning or stopping. Watch out for other vehicles on the road and use flashing lights to draw attention to the tractor’s slow speed.

4. Have a plan for grain bin safety when entry is absolutely necessary. Train workers on grain storage hazards and risks involved with entering a grain storage bin. Follow safe bin entry practices like Lock Out Tag Out and utilizing a lifeline system. Have an emergency action plan in case an accident occurs and make sure everyone on your farm is trained to follow it.

5. Tell family members and employees where you will be working and when. Keep the lines of communication open. Also, have a cellphone or walkie-talkie on you in case of emergencies or accidents.

6. Get plenty of rest and take frequent breaks. Drink plenty of fluids and have healthy snacks on hand to keep your energy levels up. Do not push yourself past healthy limits. Accidents are more likely to happen once fatigue sets in.

7. Familiarize yourself with how your prescriptions and over-the-counter medications affect you. Some medications and machinery do not mix. Consult your doctor if your medications impair your ability to safely operate your equipment.