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9.11.12

Farm Safety

Many farm-related medical problems can be prevented by planning ahead and taking safety precautions.

A variety of injuries are caused by farm accidents and other occupational hazards related to farming.  Many of these injuries can be prevented by getting adequate rest and taking safety precautions.  Dr. Debra Phillips, professor of family and community medicine at SIU School of Medicine, explains. 

“The farmers push their bodies and their machines way past what they should be doing.  And as harvest is happening and the weather is bad, they will go much longer hours.  Sometimes it will go late into the night, have a very short rest period. And when you do that, reasoning and response time decrease and accidents happen.” 

Inhaling debris floating in the air during harvest is a serious health hazard.  Dr. Phillips advises farmers to use air masks to protect their lungs from the dust and debris in the fields.  She also advises taking safety precautions against fires.

“. . . during harvest time, you are going to have a lot of chaff and you’re pushing the machine and you’re going to get a fire in the combine.  So without a doubt you should have a fully charged fire extinguisher in the combine and other places around the farm, including around the augers and the bins.”

Dr. Phillips advises farmers to keep a first aid kit handy, do a 15-minute safety check for potential hazards, and properly train others who will be operating machinery.  If someone has an injury, they should quickly go to their personal physician or hospital emergency department.

Ruth Slottag