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June 14, 2017

Play It Safe When Working On The Farm

Across Wisconsin, June is celebrated as dairy month and serves as a reminder of the important role farming plays in the state’s economy. For people who live and work on farms, safety needs to be top of mind.

Follow Equipment, Safety Rules to Avoid Injuries

Across Wisconsin, June is celebrated as dairy month and serves as a reminder of the important role farming plays in the state’s economy. For people who live and work on farms, safety needs to be top of mind. The National Safety Council reports that of the 3.1 million Americans who work on farms, 1,300 die each year and 1,200 are injured, making farming one of the more dangerous occupations.

Working with heavy equipment and chemicals, plus the very physical nature of the work involved, are some of the reasons farmers are more likely to be injured on the job than someone who works behind a desk all day. Most farm accidents happen because equipment operators are distracted, overtired or inexperienced (that sounds similar to the causes behind car crashes). By following some basic safety tips, ag workers can prevent their chances of being hurt. For those of us who live off the farm, but use tractors and mowers to keep our lawns trimmed, these same rules apply.

Read and follow equipment directions: Before using a piece of equipment for the first time, read through the manual and follow all the safety rules. Just because the last tractor you used worked one way does not mean the next one will. In addition, observe rules about speed and what kind of work the equipment should be used for.

Wear appropriate clothes. Make sure your shoes are tied and you do not have any loose clothing that could get stuck in a piece of equipment.

Watch out for fatigue. Farmers work long hours, especially in the spring and fall when time is limited to get crops in and out of the ground. You are more likely to make an error in judgment or have slower reflexes when you are tired so take breaks when operating heavy equipment.

Avoid alcohol when operating heavy equipment. Alcohol clouds decision-making so do not grab a beer until you are done for work for the day.

Stay aware. Always stay focused on what you are doing and pay attention to your surroundings for possible hazards, such as divots in the ground, which could unsteady your equipment.

Keep children out of work areas. Children are fascinated by large farm equipment, but keep them away when machines are in use. Kids do not fully understand how dangerous equipment can be so make sure they know to stay out of work areas.

By paying attention and following basic safety rules, you can avoid accidents and injuries whether you are working on a farm or in your yard.

Scott Schuldes is a certified family nurse practitioner at ThedaCare Physicians in Darboy and Hilbert. He can be reached at scott.schuldes@thedacare.org.