Have You Developed a Farm Safety Checklist for Your Farm?
A farm can be an interesting place to work. However, to the uninitiated, it can also be filled with hazards.
From animal behavior and tractor operation to the chemicals and tools used in and around a farm, it's important that young employees learn how to keep themselves safe. A farm safety checklist can provide a quick guide for anyone working on (or visiting) a farm.
Farm-Related Injuries Can Be Prevented
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there has been an increasing number of farm-related accidents in the last decade. As of recent figures, "an estimated 33,000 children have experienced injuries at a farm, and more than 100 have died as a result," OSHA reports. Fortunately, many accidents can be prevented with a farm safety checklist, as well as education about working around the elements commonly found in this environment.
Where to Find Information About Farm Safety
The OSHA Youth in Agricultural eTool is a great place to start learning about farm safety and creating a checklist. This interactive resource details the various areas of a farm, what dangers to watch out for and tips to make the farm safer. This is an important component to keeping young people safe while they are visiting the property or conducting work for an agricultural center.
What Belongs on a Farm Safety Checklist?
A number of points should be addressed and included on your farm safety checklist. Here's a general rundown of four important considerations:
- Safety Attire: Perhaps the most important item that should be addressed on a safety checklist is the use of protective attire. What should one wear while working with farm equipment, chemicals and animals? Wearing jeans, coveralls, long-sleeved shirts, gloves, sturdy boots or closed-toe shoes can prevent illness and accidents from happening. In areas where there may be debris in the air, the use of safety glasses is strongly advised. A hat should be worn when outdoors (especially in full sun) to prevent heatstroke and sunburn. Ear plugs can be worn to protect hearing when around loud farm equipment.
- Animal Safety: On farms where there are domesticated animals to care for, a knowledge of basic animal behavior and tips to avoid injury are a must. For example, animals tend to run in a group, so avoiding actions that may scare them can help prevent being trampled. Animals that are sick or injured require extra caution. Restraints, entrances and exits should be checked when moving animals from one place to another. Being aware of potential kicks and bites from cattle, horses, llamas, sheep and other large animals can also reduce injuries. Any young person working on a farm needs to respect animals and treat them humanely at all times.
- Chemical Handling: It's common for farms to have various chemicals on site that serve certain purposes. Pesticides can harm humans if they are ingested or the skin comes into contact with them. Chemicals used to treat animal illnesses can be very harmful (and even deadly) to people. Even general purpose chemicals, like lye and ammonia, can hurt humans. Make sure your farm safety checklist includes instructions on the proper use of chemicals, including an overview of who is authorized to use them and what to do if anyone comes in contact with them. A Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) folder should be kept on site for additional information on handling chemicals.
- Farm Buildings and Equipment: No one should be allowed in a farm building or around farm equipment without proper training. Individuals under the age of 16 should be monitored at all times by an adult, especially while around the mechanical and electrical equipment found on a farm. A safety checklist can include instructions on how to turn lights and equipment on and off, how to store equipment and tools safely, where to find fire extinguishers and how to report a hazard. Barns can be filled with dangerous elements — like poor lighting and wet surfaces — that can cause trips and falls. A checklist can include proper cleaning and maintenance of all areas for humans and animals.
It's important to review the checklist with anyone working at a farm, young or old. To help prevent injury or death on your property, be sure to demonstrate the proper precautions to take.