At the 2012 MOFGA Common Ground Fair, the Maine AgrAbility staff asked visitors to complete a short safety survey. Staff visited with about 200 visitors over the three day event, and 128 surveys were collected. The demographic of people that completed the survey were 1:1 male to female and predominantly home gardeners (54%), followed by full time farmers (15%) and part time farmers (15%). The remaining were either farm family members, farm workers or not involved with agriculture.
The focus of the survey was to determine the safety awareness and attitude of agricultural workers. Half of the respondents said they think about safety most of the time, the rest said they think about safety either some of the time or all the time.
The most often used personal protective equipment (PPE) was:
- work gloves
- safety glasses
- cell phone
- ear plugs.
Of those that had PPE available 56% of people used it most of the time, 17% always used PPE and 23% sometimes used PPE. The other PPE people commented on using were:
- fall protection devices,
- safety harnesses; and
This coincides with the most dangerous tasks people disclosed performing:
- chainsaw use
- tractor and heavy equipment use
- livestock handling; and
When asked what type of safety training they would like to see, the top response was “stress on the farm”. Stress can take its toll both physically and emotionally, by weakening your physical health and focus. One moment’s distraction can turn a simple task into a disastrous event.
Part of the AgrAbility program is to bring safety to the fore front of agricultural activities: stressing safety awareness throughout the day and the diverse tasks that are completed. By thinking about safety before starting any tasks, being aware of the activity hazards and being prepared with the appropriate PPE, farming and gardening can be a safe and rewarding job.