July 15, 2024

Rural Issues: Important farm safety tips

It has been a challenging year for many farmers, making harvest for many more stressful than usual across much of the Midwest. More farm accidents happen when those crops are coming out of the fields than at any other time of the year.

As long as I am able, I will continue to write about it and spread the word during National Farm Safety and Health Week and beyond. Agriculture is the most dangerous work sector in the United States of America.

As a young farm broadcaster covering local ag events in the mid-’80s, it was impossible not to notice that so many of the hands I was shaking were missing thumbs and fingers and, in some cases, entire arms.

Gone are the corn pickers that mangled so many of those limbs, but we still have harvest equipment, PTO shafts, ag chemicals and power tools.

Worst-case scenario, accidents that cause loss of life or limb may occur. There are also non-life-threatening health and safety risks for those involved in the production of food, fiber and fuel here in the Midwest.

Because of COVID, personal protective equipment became a household acronym. Masks were not just for those in the medical field.

PPE can go a long way toward protecting farmers. N95 respirators provide a close facial fit and efficient filtration of airborne particles like grain dust.

Safety glasses, goggles and other face shields may help prevent injury or contamination when working in the shop, applying inputs, or in other heavy smoke or dust conditions.

Please invest in some sort of ear protection. Acoustic earmuffs or even simple ear plugs — be sure they fit properly — when operating loud machinery or exposing yourself to noise on the farm can go a long way to protect hearing.

Grandpa always told me to “protect my noggin.” Wear a hard hat in situations where there is a risk of head injury.

Be sure it fits well, allowing you to see what is happening around you so you are not putting yourself at even greater risk. The right hat and sunscreen application can go a long way in protecting again skin cancer.

Non-slip boots or shoes can protect you from falling. Steel toed boots and shoes can protect your feet, ankles and lower legs from countless injuries.

When using toxic or irritating chemicals, be sure to wear clothing and gloves to protect yourself from exposure.

Be aware. You know what you need to do to make your farm a safer place throughout the year.

Whether that means tearing down old fence so you do not catch it in a piece of equipment, scraping mud and ice from the tractor platform, or simply being aware and staying calm when working with livestock, it all adds up.

Someone, and quite probably more than just a someone, cares about you very much. If not for yourself, be safe for them.

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear is farm director and operations manager for Brownfield Network.