Top 10 Safety Tips for Farm Work

Many people employed in the agriculture industry have a tendency to think of themselves as being somewhere on a scale from ‘tough’ to ‘hardy’.

Yet illness and accidents are far from unknown in agriculture. Some of these arise because of a lack of awareness of the dangers that can be involved.

So to improve your chances of staying healthy and safe when working on farms, it’s worth considering the following:

• Make sure that your tetanus jabs are up-to-date. This disease is primarily linked with wounds that become infected by bacteria in soil and animal waste though it can also be caused by inhalation. Tetanus can make you seriously ill or even prove fatal in some cases. Some other shots might also be a good idea, depending upon where you are and what sort of work you’re engaged in. Check your local medical advice.

• If you do suffer some sort of wound then even if your tetanus shots are up to date, make sure you clean the injury with an appropriate product and dress it with bandages or similar to keep it clean.

• Even the best quality agricultural machinery can be highly dangerous and every year it causes numerous serious accidents. So, make sure you use safety equipment such as heavy-duty gloves, eye/face protection, hearing defenders and steel-capped boots. Remember, your employer may have a legal obligation to provide you with certain types of safety equipment.

• Be certain that you’ve been trained to safely operate the machinery you’re using. Many accidents are caused by misuse due to a lack of awareness and basic training. Don’t just assume you’ll ‘fly it by the seat of your pants’ to find out. A related tip – don’t fiddle or tamper with machinery you don’t understand. If it’s not ‘right’, get an expert to fix it.

• Working with livestock can be surprisingly dangerous. Cattle and pigs, for example, can be highly unpredictable or clumsy – particularly if they panic etc. That can and does kill people, so keep your wits about you. If you’re not very experienced with livestock, make a point of taking advice from older hands who are.

• Use plenty of barrier cream and wear a hat when working in the full sun. That’s to do with skin cancer of course but also make sure you drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.

• The dangers of dust inhalation are often hugely underestimated by people working in agriculture. Spores in hay, irritation caused by harvest dust, animal feedstuff dust – they’re all potentially harmful, particularly on a cumulative basis. The answer’s simple – use an appropriately graded mask.

• Don’t overwork. The links between stress and physical exhaustion to potential coronary incidents is well-known. Obviously many other risk factors come into play also, such as your age, overall health/fitness, weight, lifestyle and to some extent, genetics. Even so, if you’re dog tired then take a break or leave it until tomorrow. Don’t keep pushing yourself through ‘the wall’ day after day and make time for relaxation.

• Listen to your body. If you’re getting regular pain then stop and get it checked out rather than simply assume it’s just a short-term muscular problem. It is probably nothing but it could be something that needs medical attention including things like tendon troubles, vertebrae injuries or vascular problems.

A farm in many respects can be just as dangerous a workplace as a factory. Keep that in mind.

Some Agricultural Waste Disposal Or Storage Tips

1. Only burn agricultural waste or “plant tissue” if you have prior consent from EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

2. Reduce, re-use and recycle farm waste, if possible segregate plastic bags and wrapping materials. Collect and store agricultural waste plastic straight after use and contact an approved plastic-recycling scheme if the plastic is deemed no longer usable on farm. You should be able to find a local collector by contacting your local council.

3. Keep all out buildings farm steadings and farmlands clean and tidy and free. Remove unsightly litter from farming activity, especially used agricultural plastics, scrap and containers.

4. Store agricultural waste securely, thus reducing environmental damage and any risk to human health, and excellent way of doing this is with a specially designed agricultural recycling bin.

5. monitor water use carefully to minimise leakage or wastage, especially where any seepage is increasing levels of agricultural waste production (for example slurry build up)

6. Burn oil waste in any appliance once prior authorisation has been granted by EPA for burning this troublesome waste by product.

7. Recycle waste oil, lubricants, scrap metals and plastics and tyres as some of these will become toxic and hazardous over time.

8. If possible sort your agricultural waste into categories for example string, net, fertiliser bags, cardboard and paper, buckets and containers, feed bags, silage waste.

9. Separate into hazardous and no hazardous waste some materials are toxic and should be handled with extreme care. If ever in doubt (COSHH – control of substances hazardous to health) guidelines should be available on request from your product supplier this is their legal responsibility.

Top Tips for Selecting Quality Agricultural Tools

If you’re in farming, then budgets are likely to be tight and you’ll often be looking for economies. That’s virtually “business as usual” in agriculture.

However, one area you might not want to cut spending corners in is that of your tools. There might be little point in purchasing prestige items like for example Krone hay equipment if you then put that at risk by trying to maintain it with cheap tools.

So, here are some top tips for selecting quality tools.

1. Look for recognised quality brands. If they’ve been around a long time and have a reputation for quality, then they’re clearly doing something right. Be prepared to pay a little extra, if necessary, for that reassurance.

2. Learn a bit about metal descriptions. For example, if terms such as “HSS” or “Chrome Vanadium” don’t mean much to you, you should research them and other such technical designators. That’s because tool producers often use such designations to describe the quality of the metallurgy they use. Note that metal hardness isn’t always necessarily the only criterion behind selection – read up on that too.

3. Be certain you understand how different tools function and which one is right for the job. Most professional farmers or farm workers will have a good understanding of this but it’s still possible to see people using a totally inappropriate tool for the job. That can be dangerous and put at risk what you’re working on and perhaps any warranties you might have in place. In this sense, quality means “select tools that are fit for purpose”.

4. If you’re buying tools with a brand name you’ve never heard of, research them on the internet first. Try to find out where the manufacturer is based and get objective feedback on their products. Be alert to fraudulent sponsored feedback designed to mislead. You can often spot that by repetitious phraseology used in feedback comments, such as “exceptional value tools”, “truly exceptional quality items” and “an excellent product” all used by supposedly different purchasers in quick succession.

Look out also for feedback that is overly gushing (using lots of superlatives) and that which is left in a language that’s clearly not the native language of the supposed customer concerned. Finally, most legitimate positive feedback is usually terse, such as “good buy and I’m very pleased”. Be suspicious about lots of positive feedback that goes into unnecessary detail – it might suggest the reviewer is being paid by the word and is working too hard to prove their worth.

5. Purchase tools that offer a money-back guarantee. Use a credit card or other payment mechanism that offers you a degree of protection should you demand your money back. That means avoiding cash or cash transfer payment mechanisms.

6. Be very cautious with offers that look too good to be true. Some producers do offer loss-leaders when they’re getting started and that can lead to real bargains but it can also signify that a manufacturer is cutting corners big time on quality.

Good luck with your purchase!