As spring planting gears up, so may your farm’s use of hazardous chemicals. It’s important to be conscious of how to apply them in a way that’s safe. Read our five safety tips to ensure your workers remain accident-free this year.
Common farm chemicals, also known as agricultural chemicals or “agri-chemicals,” include fuels, solvents, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers and veterinary chemicals.
While each has a function on the farm, agri-chemicals can be dangerous.
Follow these five safety tips to keep your family and farm workers safe.
1. Educate all farm workers about the dangers of chemicals. Educating yourself and your farmworkers about the repercussions of poorly handling hazardous chemicals promotes a safer work environment by helping workers avoid injury.
For instance, some farm chemicals contain anhydrous ammonia. The compound doesn’t contain water, so when anhydrous ammonia contacts moisture, it rapidly combines with it.
This is great for crops and plants, as it quickly combines with the soil’s moisture to promote growth. But, if it comes into contact with our eyes, skin or mucous membranes, it can cause rapid dehydration and severe burns.
It’s also important to make sure all hazardous chemicals are labeled so workers know what they are dealing with. You should have Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) readily available and constantly reviewed.
2. Wear personal protective equipment. To avoid exposure to hazardous chemicals, wear chemical-proof goggles, rubber gloves, and a heavy-duty long-sleeved shirt. Certain chemicals may also call for a respirator.
3. Provide clean water for first aid. If a farmer comes into contact with a chemical, first aid must be administered immediately. Plenty of water should be on hand at all times to flush out the chemical after a person has come into contact with it.
All chemical nurse and applicator tanks should contain at least one five-gallon container of clean water, which should be changed out daily to ensure a fresh supply.
4. Store and handle chemicals properly. For instance, because anhydrous ammonia boils at minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit, it must be stored properly to maintain its liquidity and handled under high pressure with specially designed and well-maintained equipment.
All equipment should meet the appropriate design guidelines by the American National Standards Institute.
Keep equipment in good condition by maintaining an annual safety checklist, like this one, provided by your equipment supplier.
5. Observe proper procedures when transferring chemicals. Most accidents happen while transferring chemicals.
That’s why it’s critical to wear all proper protective equipment, and to make sure all farm workers are thoroughly familiar with the machinery and equipment necessary for transfer.
When driving on the highway during a transfer, travel at a safe speed and secure the chemical vats with a safety chain and safety clip on the hitch pin.
Farm safety starts with you, and we are here to help. From your farm equipment safety checks, to how you maintain your farm buildings and keeping your children safe, make sure you take the proper steps to prevent a tragedy from happening.
Please contact a Rural Mutual agent for loss control resources and farm safety information. As the #1 Farm Insurer in Wisconsin, Rural Mutual has seen the worst and is dedicated to helping the Ag community stay safe and be properly protected.