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Top 10 Safety Tips for Farm Work

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

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.

How to Protect Your Livestock

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Even ‘seasoned veteran’ farmers are sometimes shocked at the scale of livestock theft they suddenly encounter.

One recent theft involved over 700 sheep from a farm, though incredibly the culprits were tracked down and arrested. Much of the flock was returned to the rightful owner.

However, much theft of this nature is never resolved and the losses and stresses can be huge for the farmer concerned. So, here are a few tips about how you can help reduce your risks.

  • Where livestock is inside, make sure your premises are protected with locks and alarms. CCTV and PIR sensors are now very affordable and should also be considered.
  • There are various forms of animal tagging and identification systems – the specifics may vary depending upon which country and/or state you’re in. Make sure you use them and also consider other non-removable ways of marking your animals to make them easily identifiable. That in itself won’t stop the theft physically but it might deter some thieves who want ‘quick disposal’ afterwards and a limited chance of identification of the animals concerned.
  • When livestock is outside, don’t make it easy for thieves by leaving things that could be used to help the loading of animals (e.g. loading ramps or some forms of agricultural machinery ) near your perimeters at night. Keep that sort of equipment somewhere central under lock-and-key instead.
  • If the animals concerned are particularly valuable, prime breeding stock might be an example, then you might wish to consider hidden trackers. These can be almost undetectable and if acted upon promptly by the authorities, the result can be the fast arrest of the thieves.
  • Work with your neighbours and other farmers in the area to form mutual support groups. Take notes of vehicles and registrations that appear to be strange to the area and ‘hanging around’ for no obvious reason. Contact the police sooner rather than later. They’ll go and check things out and if all is legitimate then fine. If not, it’s a theft prevented. In passing, most police services would far rather prevent crime than detect it after the event, so they won’t worry about the time invested in this sort of prevention.
  • If you don’t already, keep a dog on your property. OK, it’s perhaps not a viable deterrent for your fields a long way away from your home base but it will be a powerful deterrent to thieves looking to pick up some of your animals that are being held locally. Most livestock thieves REALLY detest dogs.
  • Don’t travel around your land to a set routine. Surprisingly, many thefts happen not in the dead of night but during broad daylight. If you have a certain routine which means you’re never in XYZ location until late in the evening, then thieves can get to know that and consider the rest of the day to be safe from your arrival. So, deliberately vary your schedule as much as possible.

There is, of course, no sure-fire way to guarantee the safety of your stock but some of the above steps might help.