June is National Safety Month. According to the National Safety Council, agriculture is the most hazardous industry in the United States. June is the perfect time for farm families to search the home and farm for safety hazards. Emphasis must be placed on correcting safety hazards right away. Some safety hazards can’t be completely eliminated. In these cases, engaging in safety behaviors can reduce risks.
The majority of injuries and deaths on the farm involve machinery such as tractors. Using proper personal protective equipment includes use of hats/helmets, face shields, safety goggles and gloves, boots and other protective equipment can minimize injuries. You should follow all manufacturer instructions and recommendations, adhere to maintenance schedules, and avoid using equipment until repairs have been completed. Install approved guards and protective equipment such as roll over protective structures to tractors and other machinery as needed. Consider obtaining a portable document format file (PDF) of the operator’s manual for all equipment and machinery. Don’t forget the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for all chemicals kept in the home and on the farm. Save this information to a flash drive and the hard drive of your computer. Keep hard copies in a designated location. Save the nearest emergency numbers such as 911 and Poison Control number on your home and cell phones.
Children under the age of 15 and adults over the age of 65 have the greatest risk for injury. Children should be given age appropriate tasks, suitable to their mental and physical abilities. Children should not be allowed access to hazardous areas, and dangerous areas should be fenced off. The North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT) is a good resource for keeping children safe on the farm.