Sow the seeds of farm safety
You understand that working safely with machinery, livestock and other farm hazards is not only good for business, it’s also necessary to prevent injuries to your family, employees and visitors. But given the busy farm environment, do you sometimes overlook safety measures?
Steer clear of machinery hazards
A healthy respect for powerful commercial equipment prevents accidents and injury. So, take all precautions and follow the manufacturers’ guidelines to keep everyone safe. We all know what can happen when workers take short cuts or try to make repairs without turning equipment off or locking moving parts: injuries or even loss of life.
Commercial machinery is powerful, which makes operating the equipment especially hazardous for both workers and bystanders. Despite manufacturers’ strict safety standards, many accidents still happen due to the nature of the work itself as well as human error.
Take the time to train your workers on safety precautions of all machinery, especially if they’re new to your operation. The Farm Safety Association has a large library of factsheets, posters, training manuals and other materials available, including:
• safety precautions for specific machines such as tractors, mowers and ATVs
• safety tips for harvesting, handling farm animals and dealing with manure and silo gases
• tips on how to protect from respiratory hazards, falls, hearing loss, eye damage, and repetitive strain injuries
• rescue procedures for dangers such as flowing grain entrapment
• information about issues such as West Nile virus, avian flu and BSE
Respect your livestock and their environment
Farmers know that livestock and their environment are another major cause of injuries and sickness on the job, so it’s important to insist on caution, preparedness and respect.
Remind workers that every animal and environment has specific risks. Describe the risks, the proper equipment and handling techniques and what to do when dangerous situations occur. Ensure all workers use the proper safety equipment such as steel-toed boots, gloves, respirators and other protective gear.
Start a new safety tradition
While you may have been driving your dad’s tractor when you were thirteen, equipment today is bigger and more complicated, workers are busier, and children can get into dangerous situations faster. Make sure children have a safe place to play, away from the potential hazardous areas on your property. They need to understand the dangers and what to do in case of an emergency.
Fire prevention on the farm
With organic materials like hay and feed and large mechanical equipment, a typical farm has many potential fire safety hazards. Here are a few quick tips to help prevent fires on your farm.
1. Make it a habit to maintain good housekeeping in the barn and keep the yard clear of brush and other flammable debris. Sparks from machinery or even a stray cigarette can turn litter into kindling. Smoking materials that are not properly extinguished can smoulder undetected for days before igniting a fire. Never discard smoking materials on the ground or in plant pots.
2. Provide adequate ventilation to prevent buildup of chemical vapours, silo gases, and other hazardous byproducts. Proper airflow helps dissipate flammable gas and vapours, and prevents heat buildup.
3. Maintain electrical equipment and keep wires safely enclosed in metal or PVC pipes to protect them from exposure to weather and animals. Keep flammable items away from heat sources, and clean away dirt and dust buildup from appliances and equipment to stop overheating. Never leave portable heating units unattended.
4. Refuel equipment outdoors, away from open flames and as far from buildings as possible, to allow harmful vapours to dissipate. Make sure engines are not running or still hot before refuelling.
5. Portable fire extinguishers should be properly maintained, regularly inspected and easy to find in each farm building, especially near mechanical equipment and storage areas that contain flammable materials.
6. Avoid using heat lamps, solar lamps, trouble lights, heated watering bowls or other such heated devices to warm your pets’ outdoor home (e.g., dog house). Portable electrical heating systems or temporary installations are subject to damage and/or failure, contributing to fires. Instead, use borrowed heat which involves providing warmth from a heating system located in a separate building. Heated air or piped water is transferred to the area requiring heat. For example, a warm air supply from your house will send warmed air to the pet’s outdoor shelter. Caution: exposed piping can still be subject to chewing, leading to water damage and/or failure of hot water heating systems. If borrowed heat isn’t possible, consider bringing your pets inside during extreme cold.