Helpful tips to keep you safe on the farm
| Cathal Lydon
Without proper safety measures, dangerous accidents can be common occurrences on farms, causing tragedy, suffering, and even disability or death. According to Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority of Ireland, 2,000 injuries occur on Irish farms every year, over twice the incidence of farm accidents as other European countries, and over 20% of fatal farm accidents involve children.
According to a new report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), fatality rates among farmers were 10 times that of the average worker between 2009 and 2015. The report, titled “Risk-Taking and Accidents on Irish Farms,” included a list of common mistakes made by Irish farmers that lead to accidents. This list included not using safety equipment, not checking that farm machinery is in good working order, and not using restraints when treating livestock.
Teagasc also found that 75 percent of farm accidents are caused by tractors and machinery, trips and falls, or livestock. The best way for farmers to protect themselves, their families and anyone working on or visiting the farm is to know where the hazards are and to eliminate or reduce risks before accidents happen. We’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to make sure no accidents happen on your farm!
In March of 2013, the Farm Safety Partnership launched the ‘Stop and Think SAFE’ farm safety campaign to help reduce the number of serious accidents on Ireland’s farms. SAFE is an acronym that represents the four main causes of fatalities on farms: Slurry, Animals, Falls (from high heights), and Equipment. SAFE is a great acronym to help farmers identify hazards on their farms and eliminate potential risks.
Slurry is a mixture of gases including methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulphide. Hydrogen sulphide is the most dangerous component of slurry as it is extremely poisonous to humans and animals. On farms, slurry is mixed in a tank, a process that causes the production of the dangerous gas mixture.
To protect anyone on the farm from the dangers of slurry, farmers should always assume gas is present during mixing and make sure to open all windows and doors for aeration. It is also important to properly cover the tank openings, not just to prevent gases from leaking out, but also to prevent children from being able to access the poisonous mixture. Children and animals should always be kept out of areas where slurry is stored or mixed.
If animals are not properly handled and maintained, they can become very dangerous to people on the farm. Cattle require special handling facilities and bulls must be kept in a properly designed and equipped bullpen. Gates and fences need to be kept in good condition which requires routine maintenance and vigilance. Freshly calved cows and heifers pose a particular danger, so they need to be handled with great care by experienced handlers. Children should not be allowed to handle cattle without guidance and supervision.
Accidents involving falls usually occur on farms when the right equipment is not available. Ladders need to be securely footed and tied off when being used. They also need to be placed on firm, secure, level ground at an angle of 75 degrees, extending one meter above where the work is being carried out. No one should ever attempt to carry heavy loads while climbing a ladder.
Falls also occur on farms when someone tries to access an unsafe area. No one should ever attempt to go onto a fragile or corroded roof as you can fall through the roof as well as falling off of it. If you must access a fragile roof, use proper roofing ladders or crawling boards.
It is also recommended that farmers erect a stable barrier to prevent falls when performing extensive roof work. Children visiting farms have a tendency to climb gates, so to prevent any other kinds of falls on the farm, gates and pillars should be properly erected so they don’t fall over. Stacks of bales, pallets, or timber are also tempting for children to climb, Bales should be carefully crafted so they don’t collapse and fences should be used to keep children out of unsafe areas.
Equipment misuse and malfunctions contribute to some of the most traumatic farm accidents. Farmers must guarantee every day that all equipment is safe and ready to be used. To prevent common equipment mistakes, make sure that all power take-off (PTO) shaft guards cover the whole shaft. It is also important to ensure that brakes and steering are in good condition, and windows and mirrors are clean enough to provide all-around visibility.
Some farm machines have more than one source of power, so it is important to isolate electrical, hydraulic or pneumatic systems before beginning any repairs. The only people who should be allowed to operate farm machinery are those with the proper training. Children under 14 years old should not be allowed to operate or drive any farm equipment, and children over 14 should only be allowed to operate machinery if they have received adequate training. Do not carry any passengers, especially children, in tractors unless there is an authorized passenger seat. When working on slopes, assess the slope and ground condition before working on it to ensure machinery does not overturn.
Help Your Children Avoid Hazards on the Farm With Hazard Farm Children’s Book
As you can see, there are many hazards on the farm that can prove dangerous and even fatal for children. While parents can do a lot to prevent their children from suffering from an accident on the farm, the best method of preventing these dangers is through education.
Little Red Design Studio is an educational technology company that seeks to deliver important messages to children through fun, interactive learning experiences. With our “Hazard Farm Children’s Book”, your child will be guided through Hazard Farm where they’ll learn about the dangerous hazards on farms.
This colourful, interactive experience is designed to teach children about farm safety and includes a feature that allows you to record your voice for each scene in the book. This means your child can enjoy this innovative and valuable learning experience even when you aren’t there to read to them. Pick up your copy of “Hazard Farm Children’s Book” today and get your child started down the path of proper farm safety!
More tips in our blog on keeping children safe on the farm