When working on the farm, many everyday tasks create the possibility for injury. However, there are some precautions you can take that will go a long way in creating a safe work environment for yourself and your people.
Slips and Trips
Some of the most common accidents are slips and trips. As the first line of defence, everyone should wear shoes and boots with slip-resistant soles and heels when they are on the farm. Footwear is an important part of injury prevention and wearing the right shoe for the job is essential in ensuring your safety.
Throughout the day, keep an eye out for potential slip and trip hazards and correct them as soon as possible. Clear mud, ice and snow build-up from all entrances and walkways. In high traffic areas, regularly clean dust, debris, spills and any other slipping or tripping hazards, and ensure all areas are well lit.
When it comes to falls, it doesn’t take extreme heights to get a severe injury. If you’re working with ladders, ensure they’re in good condition before each use. Use the “four-to-one” rule: set up the ladder base 1/4 metre from a wall or building for each metre of height. Anyone using a ladder on the farm should be aware of and follow some general best practices for accident prevention:
- Lock a leg around the ladder if you need to use both hands
- Never overreach
- Keep your belt buckle between the ladder rungs while working
- Don’t place one foot on the ladder and the other on an adjacent surface or object
- Never jump off a ladder
- Avoid using a ladder in wet or icy conditions
- Avoid power lines when using ladders, especially those made of metal
- Don’t work on a ladder when it is windy, stormy or if you are fatigued
Lifting and Stooping
Another frequent cause of injury on farms is improper lifting. The work often involves lifting heavy loads and stooping excessively, both of which can cause serious back injury.
Before moving or lifting an item, be aware of what your lifting capabilities are. If something is too heavy for you, get assistance from a coworker, or use equipment like a dolly or wheelbarrow to lighten the load on your body.
To protect yourself from injury, proper lifting technique must be used. Whenever possible, keep the load between knee and shoulder level. This will put less strain on your shoulders, neck and back. Add handles to containers to make them easier to hold on to and try to carry loads close to your body. Always bend at the knees and lift with your legs.
Tasks that involve stooping down can place just as much strain on your back as lifting heavy items. If you are able, redesign tasks to avoid stooped work whenever possible. However, if it is unavoidable, attach long handles to your tools, or use a stool to get lower to the ground.
Confined spaces like a grain bin, silo, or manure pit present serious safety and health hazards. While the safest approach to preventing injuries in them is to perform work outside them, it isn’t always possible.
If you need to enter a confined space, have a clearly laid out plan ready beforehand. It should define the task, identify any specific hazards, and what equipment will be required. Confirm all moving parts are shut off, locked out or blocked before anyone goes inside. Any time someone enters in a confined space, there should be a watch person monitoring what is happening and keeping in constant contact with them in case of an emergency.
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