Many people employed in the agricultural industry tend to think that they are somewhere on a scale from “hard” to “tough.”
However, diseases and accidents are far from unknown in agriculture. Some of these arise due to a lack of awareness of the dangers that may be involved.
So to improve your chances of staying healthy and safe when working on farms, the following are worth considering:
• Make sure your tetanus injections are up to date. This disease is mainly related to wounds that are infected by bacteria in the soil and animal waste, although it can also be caused by inhalation. Tetanus can make you very sick or even fatal in some cases. Some other shots may be a good idea as well, depending on where you are and what type of work you are involved in. Consult your local medical council.
• If you suffer any kind of wound, even if your tetanus vaccinations are up to date, be sure to clean the wound with a suitable product and cover it with bandages or the like to keep it clean.
• Even the best quality farm machinery can be very dangerous, causing many serious accidents each year. Therefore, be sure to wear safety equipment such as sturdy gloves, eye / face protection, ear protectors, and steel-capped boots. Remember, your employer may have a legal obligation to provide you with certain types of safety equipment.
• Make sure you are trained to safely operate the machinery you are using. Many accidents are caused by misuse due to lack of awareness and basic training. Don’t assume you’re going to “blow him up the seat of your pants” to find out. A related tip: don’t handle or manipulate machinery you don’t understand. If it’s not ‘correct’, get an expert to fix it.
• Working with livestock can be surprisingly dangerous. Cattle and pigs, for example, can be very unpredictable or clumsy, especially if they panic, etc. That can and does kill people, so be vigilant. If you don’t have a lot of experience with cattle, be sure to follow the advice of older hands who do.
• Use plenty of sunscreen and wear a hat when working in full sun. That has to do with skin cancer, of course, but also make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
• People who work in agriculture often greatly underestimate the dangers of inhaling dust. Spores in hay, irritation from crop dust, dust from animal feed – all are potentially harmful, especially if they accumulate. The answer is simple: wear a properly graduated mask.
• Don’t overwork. The links between stress and physical exhaustion and possible coronary events are well known. Obviously, many other risk factors also come into play, such as age, general health / fitness, weight, lifestyle, and, to some extent, genetics. Still, if you’re tired as a dog, take a break or save it for tomorrow. Don’t keep pushing yourself through “the wall” day after day and make time to relax.
• Listen to your body. If you have regular pain, stop and have it checked instead of just assuming it’s just a short-term muscle problem. It’s probably nothing, but it could be something that needs medical attention, including tendon disorders, vertebral injuries, or vascular problems.
In many respects, a farm can be as dangerous a workplace as a factory. Keep that in mind.