Farm safety environmental factors

Posted by peterjohnmian on March 5th, 2020

Environmental factors are different from the environment itself, but do to an extent overlap.

When considering farm safety, the environment itself in terms of the nature of the land and the type of produce grown or reared is really important. Following on from that, there are a number of environmental factors that influence farm work, and potentially can cause harm or injury to employees.

Once these areas are identified, some type of risk assessment can be carried out, and whatever measures are needed to protect family and staff can be put in place.

Weather

All farms are heavily affected by different types of weather, either in terms of their produce, or in the practicality of how the weather affects the work that they do. Because the majority of work on a farm is done outside, either on open land or in sheds and buildings that are normally opens well, it means that the weather determines the speed and effectiveness of the work done.

While this can be true for any business, for farming it has a unique meaning. The work itself cannot be delayed or put off or postponed because of bad or good weather.

Work itself has a limited time span within which it must be done, often days or weeks, and must be done in the context of whatever the weather conditions are. This means that it can create a much more dangerous work environment and extra care needs to be taken.

Work sites

A farm is often both a business and a home. Whilst there is sometimes a physical separation, the work life balance is often quite heavily distorted, inevitably by the nature of the risk. This does mean that there is a greater risk for injury and harm, unless specific boundaries are put in place.

Emergency services

Farms of any size whether they are 100 acres or 1000 acres are by their very nature, isolated geographically. This means that if there is any type of injury or damage to an individual or building that is likely to be a significant delay for any emergency services being able to get to the scene. This means that anyone who works or lives on the farm will need to have a high degree of first aid training, manual handling training, fire protection training as well as all the equipment needed to go with it.

Whilst employees and family members cannot replicate emergency services, they need have sufficient skills and training to be able to cope with any potential injury that may occur, until emergency services arrive.

Isolation of work

Following on from the issue of emergency services, anyone who works on a farm either as staff or a family member, is quite likely to work on their own a lot of the time, and be physically isolated from other people.

Whilst cellphones can in theory overcome this problem, that to extent depends on availability of a signal, which can be weak or not available in rural areas. In addition, even if someone is able to contact someone else, the physical distance between them may be significant. This is a potential risk that needs to be monitored specifically by someone, and systems put in place to make sure that the isolation does not lead to a greater risk of physical harm or injury.

Environmental hazards

This is perhaps one of the biggest areas of risk, and often one of the most difficult to manage. Environmental hazards relate to things such as dust, insects, excessive noise, machinery vibration , poor or bad lighting, inadequate ventilation etc. In a normal office or factory environment, there would be legislation covering how these hazards are managed, and the risks mitigated.

In a farm environment this often proves very difficult if not impossible to do. The risks need to be understood and managed by the workers on the farm in a different way to that of an enclosed environment

The important thing is to be able to identify the risk accurately, even if it is a low risk. Once a risk is identified, it can normally be managed or reduced. If not, then special measures can be put in place such as specialist headgear or clothing which can normally mitigate most of the risk.

Peter Main is a freelance journalist who specialises in writing about agriculture and farm machinery, with a special focus on manufacturers to provide powerful tractors such as the Kubota BX Series or the Kubota B series and also writes about the importance of checking and verifying manufacturers parts as an important component of deciding which type of tractor to buy.

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peterjohnmian
Joined: March 5th, 2020
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