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Four Farming Hazards and Safety Measures to Prevent Them

Everyone knows farming is a hazardous job. Bad weather, chemicals, confined spaces, electricity, noise, heavy machinery – these can cause injuries that require hospitalization and time off work.

Recognizing and being aware of these industry-specific hazards is the first step towards preventing them. These are four frequent farming health hazards and the safety precautions that can be taken to control them.

1.      Hit by flying objects

When making repairs in tight spaces or handling heavy machinery, farmers are at risk of concussions. Head injuries also occur in enclosed manure storages, such as beneath animal quarters, or below-ground reception and pump out pits.

That’s why lightweight helmets are useful to protect from falling objects. Face shields offer protection against small flying objects, among other hazards. Mesh face screens are designed for low-velocity particle protection, while delivering high heat-resistance for those applications where ambient temperatures are high. They also never fog in high humidity environments.

Safety eyewear will prevent irritation from dust and splashes. We recommend the Uvex XV100 Series, a quality value-based safety spectacle that provides great fit at a low cost.

2.      Respiratory hazards

Silo and manure gases are specific to the farming industry. After harvested forages are placed in a silo, they release gasses during the first two-to-three-weeks of the fermentation process. These include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen dioxide. So, proper respiratory protection shouldn’t be neglected.

Dust can also cause serious lung irritation. Workers are exposed to high levels of particulates when harvesting, threshing, and processing crops. Furthermore, exposure to pesticides, fertilizers, and disinfecting chemicals used in crop spraying is known to cause respiratory illnesses, including asthma.

Anhydrous ammonia is a widely-used source of nitrogen for plant growth. When injected in the soil, liquid ammonia turns into a gas and is absorbed in the soil moisture. If it reaches the eyes, skin and respiratory tract it causes dehydration, cell destruction and severe chemical burns. Gas detection is required to fend off the risk of pesticide poisoning. Manning EC-FX-NH3 is a long-lasting ammonia sensor which maintains sensitivity and accuracy, even with rapid changes in temperature and humidity.

When it comes to PPE, protection against highly hazardous pesticides is prescribed on the pesticide product label, as required by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For instance, household gloves and simple dust masks are not good enough protection for this type of hazard. Handlers should wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Chemical-resistant, rubber boots are also necessary when walking on a freshly-sprayed field, and should be cleaned thoroughly after use.

3.      Fall hazards

Silos also pose a risk of falls, as maintenance personnel use ladders to check on silos. It’s important to provide a simple roof platform and ladder cages, where necessary. A wire mesh guard, hinged permanently on all external openings above the maximum level of grain is also a good safety precaution. Where safety cages are missing, a fall arrest system anchored to the roof platform is recommended.

4.      Confined space risks

Narrow and constricting, unlit or poorly lit, full of hazardous liquids or gasses, confined spaces can be fatal to workers and rescuers. Farms contain different types of confined spaces that pose respiratory hazards such as asphyxiation due to oxygen deficiency and toxic gas, as well as physical ones.

Common confined spaces in agriculture include:

·         Grain and feed storage facilities

·         Steel bins

·         Silos

·         Sumps, tunnels and pump pits,

·         Manure units

·         Feed grinders/mixers

·         Wells, septic tanks

·         Grain driers

Engulfment or entrapment in grain bins is a common safety hazard. People get trapped in grain either when bridged grain or when a vertical wall of grain collapses, or when flowing grain entraps them.

Workers have only seconds to get out of flowing or bridged grain before they suffocate. After 22 seconds, you are completely covered in grain, grainsafety.org writes. In addition, the vertical storage traits of grain silos and storage towers can lead to pressure and heat build-up which may result in an explosion, if left unattended.

That’s why grain storage structures require special entry precautions.

Grain storage locations are regulated by 29 CFR 1910.272(g). OSHA’s grain handling standard regulates bins, silos, tanks and flat storage locations where grain is stored. Before entering most of these spaces, a permit is required. A permit is not required if the employer’s representative (who would authorize the permit) is present during the entire operation. The permit must certify that the precautions contained in 29 CFR 1910.272(g) have been implemented.

The standard also states that an observer needs to be stationed outside the bin, silo, or tank and requires that the employee acting as an observer be trained in rescue procedures, including notification methods for obtaining additional assistance.

Workers should wear a safety harness, with a lifeline attached to a safely located solid object or anchor when entering the fenced-in area of non-enclosed manure storage. If retrieval is needed, this equipment will improve the possibility of a successful rescue. As both the entrant and the attendant know the way the confined space rescue equipment works, the attendant can get the entrant out of the confined space.

Other rescue steps include stopping all grain-moving machinery. Ventilation using a drying fan should be set up. Retaining walls from sheet metal or plywood are useful to keep grain away from the victim­­­, while holes in the bin sides will help drain away the grain.

So, where to buy pesticide protection? Check out some of the safety solutions recommended for farming hazards. And contact a Honeywell representative for more information.