Men and women who’ve been farming less than 10 years are at high risk for injury because agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the U.S.
Dr. Douglas H. Schaufler at Penn State’s Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering says some of today’s farmers didn’t grow up on the farm, increasing their risk of injury on the job.
“One common hazard for beginning farmers occurs when they search for a tractor to purchase,” Schaufler says. “Typically, the farmer is focusing on tractor price, looking for the lowest price without regard to whether or not the tractor is equipped with seat belts, roll-over-protective structures (ROPS), a wide front end for stability and other safety considerations.”
Safety and prevention tips for inexperienced farmers:
- Establishing safety policies and procedures begins with making safety a priority on the operation. A policy describing the “who-what-when-where-why” of the farm’s safety focus can help clarify what safety practices are in place and who is responsible for different elements of the policy.
- Safety rules should be simply stated, provided in a language all workers can understand and developed with input from employees. Periodic safety audits can help identify any safety issues and further communicate safety procedures.
- In identifying safety hazards on the farm, farmers should consider all equipment, buildings, hand and power tools, animals, roadways, chemicals and working surfaces. Preventing and controlling hazards and risks can greatly reduce damage to people, products and the environment.
- Inexperienced farmers and ranchers seek out mentors who can provide insight when they’re dealing with equipment purchases or livestock handling or other farm activities that aren’t familiar to them.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) is an important safety element on the farm because some activities involving hazardous conditions, i.e. excessive noise, are difficult to avoid or eliminate, but can be mitigated with the use of PPE.
- Safety education and training should be available to both employees and any of the farmer’s family members involved in farming activities. Training sessions can be as short as 5 or 10 minutes and can be conducted on the work site.
- Open communication that allows workers to feel comfortable enough to report hazardous incidents or circumstances they have experienced or identified can help reduce the risk of injury.
- Evaluating a farm’s safety and health environment can be as simple as observing employees on the job, providing short pre- and post-tests before and after a training session and asking employees to demonstrate newly learned skills and capabilities following a training event. “Safety discussions should also include activities that may be taking a toll on the body, such as lifting heavy objects or working in an unsafe manner,” Schaufler says. “The best safety practice is incorporating a safety mindset on the farm from the start.”