Did you know that the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) is a national organization dedicated to improving the health & safety of farmers, their families & workers? With this week being Farm Safety Week (Agricultural Safety Week), farmers all over the nation are sharing how they keep their farms, their families, their workers, and themselves safe on the farm.
Farm Safety Tips from Farmer John
- Keep shields and guards in place and in good repair.
- Shut down equipment to hook up or to fix or adjust.
- Have a cell phone so you can communicate in case of emergency and/or to be located in case something else happens on the farm.
- Tell your spouse, partner, or someone else on the farm where you are going if you are working on another farm or out of sight. Have an expected time of return. If you’re not back by then, ensure that they phone to check up in case something goes awry.
- Our little one was not allowed on the tractor until we got one with an enclosed cab with buddy seat and seat belt.
- We have been teaching our daughter about farm safety since she was a toddler. She knows more farm safety than most city people — adults included.
Wearing appropriate clothing is of the utmost importance. Make sure not to wear loose or dangling clothing, as they are a hazard with equipment. Wearing appropriate clothing for the environmental aspect is important too. For instance, wear long-sleeves to protect your skin from the sun and wear jeans or coveralls for protection. Hats, hearing protection, eye protection are all important as well.
I also do not wear my wedding ring when I work on the farm, much to my wife’s dismay. Rings can be a hazard when working on equipment since they can get caught on things.
When I’m working on repairing equipment with grease and oil, I wear gloves to protect my hands against grease and oil and the compounds found therein.
When my wife helps me with things like wood splitting on the farm, I make sure she wears the proper protective gear. She almost took her index finger and middle finger off with the wood splitter a few years ago, but thankfully she was wearing protective gloves. She didn’t lose her fingers, but they did turn black for a while. Focus the task at hand. My wife saw me out of the corner of her eye and glanced up for a split second without shutting off the splitter. Those two seconds were enough for her to get her fingers pinched. It could have been worse had she not been wearing the protective gloves.
With the cattle, we tell our six-year-old daughter to always have more than one way to get out of the area (be it in the barn or in the field). Always treat the animals with respect and be cognizant of contributing factors. If there are bears or wolves in the area, the cattle’s flight zone (the spot which they will come to you or away from you) will be increased. Also take into consideration if cows are having calves or have newborn calves since they can be very protective of their young.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to farm safety. Safety on the farm has to be on your mind at all times. If you’re not doing it or thinking it, that’s when things go wrong.
Things can go very wrong if you’re not practicing safe measure on the farm.
Trying to keep kids safe is a tough job. Trying to keep farm kids safe is an even harder
job. There are times of the year in our yard there are trucks, tractors, semis and
combines coming and going. Teaching our two kids, now ages 3 and 9 about farm
safety is something that we start at a very early age.
We have a few rules around the farm that we do not bend. At all. Regardless of the
situation. A few of these rules are:
• Stay in the yard around the house (they kids know this by the lawn-mowed area)
when the tractors/combine/semi are driving.
• If mom or dad tell you to stay put when we are working cows or dealing with
equipment you better stay put!
• No going in the bull & horse pen by yourself without mom or dad around.
• For our 8 yr. old, he has to ask to use his quad & if he goes out in the field he has
to wear a helmet.
• No going around the chemicals or riding in the tractors when chemicals are being
• If you have friends over during busy season (planting/harvest), you cannot leave
One other “rule” is more followed by me. I always try to have jackets and/or hats for the
kids in really bright colors, i.e. neon orange, bright red, hot pink, neon yellow or green.
There is a story behind this, however. When I was a kid, we lived on a small farm. My
dad didn’t have a lot of the big equipment (seeder, combine), so he would work for other
larger farmers during seeding and harvest, in turn they would come and seed our land
or combine our fields. My younger brother was farm crazy, the bigger the equipment
the neater he thought it was. One year, my dad had a friend of his combine our corn.
His friend would give my brother rides on occasion. One day, my brother was playing
outside while my mom was making supper and he saw the combine pull into the yard.
He ran out to get a ride (he was 5 at the time). The combine driver suddenly saw a
flash of red (my brother’s jacket) and stopped. He was inches away from running over
him. The driver told my mom that my brothers red jacket saved him.
I tend to bend some of the rules when I’m by myself and need the kids’ help. Last year,
I had to pull and calf and had my then 2 year old with me, she was my vet assistant and
she also helped with gates when I was getting the heifer in. We will also allow the kids
to help us tag new calves depending on the temperament of the cow. Normally the 3
year old isn’t allowed in the corrals, unless I’m holding her, but sometimes she likes to
“help” and again, that depends on the cow(s) temperaments. We have pretty calm
cows and that’s usually where the rules get bent—a lot!