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Farm Safety Tips

by Darla Noble

farm safetyFarming is, by nature, a dangerous job. Working with livestock, operating heavy equipment, working out in the elements, using dangerous chemicals, using all sorts of tools, all of these tasks carry with them an above-average risk of getting hurt.

Safety, however, is especially important to the farmer because there is usually no one to pick up the slack if he gets hurt and the show must go on no matter what. That’s why it’s never a bad idea to be reminded of some basic safety tips and precautions you can take to keep you and your farm injury and accident free.

The elements: Spring storms often involve dangerous lightening and high winds. Equip your barns and workshop with surge protectors to reduce the risk of electrical fires and always make sure doors, gates, tools and equipment are as secure as possible.

Working in the heat and humidity of the summer is unavoidable, but by staying hydrated and wearing sun protection (sunscreen, hats and sunglasses) will reduce the risk of sunstroke, dehydration and skin cancer.

Winter’s snow and ice can keep a farmer off his feet for weeks or even months when boots with good traction aren’t worn. Dry socks, heavy socks and properly covering your head and ears will protect against frost bite when caring for livestock.

Farm equipment (tools and machinery): Chances are you’ve been driving tractors most of your life, but it never pays to become complacent. Obtain a thorough working knowledge of your equipment before operating it. Always check to make sure children, other adults, animals and other objects are not in the path of the equipment. Make sure your equipment is in top working condition. Do not operate farm equipment while holding children. Don’t allow children to operate equipment unless they have been taught the proper procedures and have demonstrated their ability to handle the equipment. FYI: This includes ATVs.

Livestock: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. That’s the very thing you need when working with livestock. Unless you’re a poultry farmer, the animals you work with are bigger and/or stronger than you are. And by their very nature, can be very unpredictable. When working with livestock, you need to be calm, methodical and confident. Never turn your back on a bull or ram, never come between a mother and her new babies (without good cause, and only then with caution) and always be prepared for the unexpected. Don’t leave small children or visitors to your farm unattended around your livestock.

Chemicals and feed: Make sure chemicals, gasoline and other combustibles are clearly marked and kept in a well-ventilated place out of reach of children and livestock. Store hay away from combustible materials and in a well-ventilated building. Never allow anyone to smoke around your hay or chemicals. Keep first-aid instructions readily available in the event of chemical burns, ingestion or getting it in your eyes.

General safety: Always wear proper clothing for the job you’re doing. This includes closed shoes to prevent twisted ankles, snake bites and puncture wounds. Always make sure you have signs posted in your barns, on gates, etc. stating that you are not responsible for accidents. This will protect you against the carelessness of others. Dispose of old fencing, tires, tools and debris appropriately.

Farm safety–can you ever really be too careful?

About The Author

Darla Noble

Darla Noble is a freelance writer and agricultural specialist. She and her family have played a prominent role in Missouri and Mid West agriculture; predominantly in the production and marketing of sheep, value-added agricultural programs and the agri-tourism industry. They've been named MO Farm Family and their farm has been featured in several publications.