Tips for Preventing Accidents and Injuries on Your Farm
June 23 2022 - The agricultural industry is an intensely rewarding one in which to work, but can also be uniquely dangerous. According to recent statistics from the Health and Safety Executive, more than a third of all fatal workplace injuries in the 2020-21 period were in agriculture, forestry and fishing. There are many hazards presented by farm operations, but what exactly are they - and what can be done to mitigate the risk of injury on-site?
Equipment and Machinery
First and foremost, equipment and machinery present a high risk of injury to farm workers, with some presenting a high risk of loss of life. The same HSE statistics revealed that 42% of all fatal accidents in 2020-21 were caused as a result of being struck by a moving vehicle or object.
In agriculture, it is farming equipment such as tractors, combine harvesters and even quad bikes that present the most significant risk of injury or death. Meanwhile, industrial farming machinery can also be dangerous if not handled correctly.
The main mechanism by which equipment can be made safer is through the introduction of site procedures for use. Signs should be posted where machinery is likely to be in operation, and staff should notify one another of their location and activities on a regular basis, in order not to accidentally injure one another out of ignorance. In the rare event that a piece of industrial machinery fails, or an injury occurs which isnít your fault, there may be a personal injury case against the manufacturer or responsible party in the offing.
For farms that deal in livestock, there are different risks associated with the safe and effective handling of livestock. Proper restraining equipment should be used to keep animals under control, and a robust procedure for moving livestock from place to place should be drafted and followed to the letter. The government also has specific recommendations for the handling of certain animals; for example, cattle should only be handled by farm hands over the age of 13 and under the age of 65.
Training is arguably the most important and effective measure you can take to bring down instances of injury on your farm. By gathering all of your employees and farmhands together to receive the same information on correct handling procedures - as well as health and safety guidance relating to personal protective equipment and breaks - you can ensure that no one is operating on different information or assumptions.
Rest Breaks and Facilities
Speaking of rest, fatigue and dehydration are dangerous conditions that can heavily contribute to injury risk on a farm. Dehydration is an elevated risk owing to the manual labour involved, and the hours spent outside in the sun each day. As such, water stations and sheltered rest areas should be provided for staff. It is also a legal requirement to allow workers adequate breaks for monotonous work, meaning more breaks than the regular 20 minutes for six-hour plus shifts.