Farm online inductions, how to avoid work related incidents
Working and living in a farm appeals to most Australian residents as it depicts the ultimate wholesome existence. However, you will be shocked to learn that farming is among the most hazardous occupations. According to a research carried out by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, a total of 68 farm deaths were reported in 2017, a slight increase from the 63 farm-related deaths reported during the previous year. The research also revealed that tractors, quad bikes and other farm machinery accounted for 40% of the total number of deaths, becoming the leading cause of farm deaths.
With the upcoming Farm Safety Week, it is only right that we highlight some of the most common farm hazards and how to prevent them.
Common safety hazards in Australian farms and how to prevent them
Although every farm is different, some of the most common hazards include:-
- Farm equipment and machinery
As mentioned, this is the leading cause of farm-related deaths. Farm-workers routinely use such equipment as hoes, knives, cutting tools, and other power tools as well as heavy machinery such as tractors, augers, quad bikes, motorbikes, and so on.
In order to prevent deaths resulting from machine and equipment use, the farm owner should ensure that all tools and machines are maintained in good condition and used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Farm-workers should be sensitised on the need to wear protective clothing. They should also make sure that their clothing has no loose ends or strings that could get caught on machinery.
- Animal-related hazards and acquired infections
Farm-workers often have to deal with such animals as cattle, sheep, pigs, dogs, horses, and so on. These should be handled with utmost caution due to their unpredictable nature. Handling animals can not only cause injuries but could also cause the farm worker to contract infections or diseases such as Anthrax, Zika, Avian Flu, and Plague, among others.
Animal-related deaths and injuries can be prevented if farm-workers and animal handlers are adequately trained. They should also be trained on the importance of observing correct hygiene measures and PPE while handling animals.
Other environmental control measures of preventing animal-related hazards include:-
- Vaccinating healthy animals
- Isolating animals with diseases
- Disposing of dead animals or infected tissues appropriately
- Controlling pest infestation as these act as carries to infectious agents
- Tracking aggressive animals to ensure the use of restraints when necessary
- Pesticides and herbicides
Farm-workers who mix, load and apply pesticides and herbicides are exposed to spillages and inhalation of dangerous fumes. Those who work in a field where pesticides and herbicides have been sprayed are exposed to drifting fumes, eating with contaminated hands, consuming contaminated vegetables and fruits, and so on. Farm-workers are also exposed to health hazards if they wash their hands, drink, or bathe in holding ponds or irrigation canals where pesticides and herbicides accumulate.
Herbs and pesticides should be correctly labelled to ensure that farm-workers are informed of the hazards they are exposed to. Every worker should go through rigorous safety training on such issues as:-
- The use of protective clothing during pesticide and herbicide handling, mixing, loading, and application
- Recommended entry-intervals after chemical application
- How to use decontamination supplies
- Basic first aid and emergency care after contact with various farm chemicals
Farm-workers are exposed to noise pollution from tractors, harvesters, chain saws, grain dryers, silage blowers, loaders, and so on. Prolonged exposure to such could lead to noise-induced hearing loss to persons of all ages, including children and teenagers.
To prevent such, farm owners must not only provide appropriate PPE but must also train workers on their correct use.
Exposure to hot and humid weather conditions predispose workers to hazards such as heat stroke, hypothermia, dehydration, and sunburns. New workers are more at risk as they have not yet developed heat tolerance.
Workers need to be trained on the importance of staying hydrated and how to identify symptoms of negative impacts of heat exposure in fellow workers.
- Vehicle hazards
Crashes or falls from tractors, two-wheel bikes, quad bikes and other farm cars are not uncommon.
Falls from ladders windmills, silos, rooftops, horses, and so on are a common cause of farm-related injuries
- Confined spaces
These include manure pits, milk vats, silos, and water tanks which could cause suffocation or poisoning if a worker is confined in such a space for too long
How to make your farm safe through Induct for Work
The high rates of farm-related accidents and deaths raise questions on the safety awareness levels in farms as well as the amount of resources farm owners put towards their farms’ safety. Employees also seem to be unaware of their responsibilities when it comes to their safety and that of their fellow workers.
Using online inductions platform such as Induct for Work ensures that all your employees, including the new ones, are inducted before they undertake any task. This ensures that they are aware of the hazards they face and how to deal with each. It also trains them on the precautions they need to follow should farm incidents and accidents happen.
Running your own online inductions ensures that you deliver consistent induction training content to all your farm-workers and contractors. You can edit the content or add publications depending on changes in legal requirements or farm policies and procedures. The platform incorporates all induction elements laid down by the Agricultural Safety and Health Checklist.
Through Induct for Work, you can track the comprehension level of each employee on the safety rules and policies you have set forth. The platform also notifies you when a contractor’s license or other documents are due for renewal. All these features help you stay compliant.
The bottom line
Health and safety training should be an integral part of any farm. This not only ensures that the employees along with the farm owners and their families stay safe but also ensures that you stay compliant with occupational health and safety regulations.
Sign up for your free online induction account trial today!