Farmers have the seventh most-dangerous job in America.
Annually, there are 26.2 work-related fatalities per 100,000 full-time farmers, according to Business Insider. Of the 268 farm deaths in 2011, 54 percent were transportation related.
With harvest season underway, many Maine farmers and farm workers are operating farm tractors in fields and on roads. To promote workplace safety, the Maine AgrAbility Program of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, in partnership with Goodwill Industries of Northern New England and Alpha One, developed a brightly colored decal to be applied to tractor fenders, dashboards and windshields. The decal reminds operators to work safely.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s AgrAbility Program will give as many as five free safety stickers to each farm in Maine. To order, contact Maine AgrAbility Coordinator Lani Carlson at email@example.com or 207.944.1533, or online.
Maine AgrAbility is an outreach program for farmers and farm workers with disabilities or chronic illnesses to help them keep farming. Maine AgrAbility is sponsored by UMaine Extension in collaboration with Alpha One and Goodwill Industries of Northern New England. More information about Maine AgrAbility is online (umaine.edu/agrability).
Image Description: Work Safely, Keep Farming
“Beware Silo Gas and Avoid Silo Filler’s Disease” Article courtesy of Vermont Farm Safe.
It’s all in a Day’s Work: What is Occupational Therapy?
By Ellen Gibson, AgrAbility Specialist
Farmers inMainework hard, with all kinds of machinery, with all kinds of animals, and in all kinds of weather. This is part of the allure of farming, but it can take its toll on a person’s health over time. Farmers are prone to injury because they work hard physically. They bend, stoop, carry heavy items, and are jarred and jostled for long hours on tractors while they plow, harrow, and mow.
Maine AgrAbility is a partnership of theUniversityofMaine Cooperative Extension, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England, andAlphaOneIndependentLivingCenters. The goal of our program is to help farmers inMainekeep farming for the long term. If farmers have issues with pain, injuries, or disabling conditions, the Maine AgrAbility team can help. We go on farms to talk to farmers about the work they do. We look at how they get around and do their work and we look at their work environment. Some questions we seek to answer include: What is making their lives more difficult? Is the tractor seat adjusted correctly? Are the barn doors difficult to open? Is lighting in the barn sufficient? Is feeding done by hand? We then look at how we can address these barriers.
Maine AgrAbility team members cover the entire state ofMaine. One team member is Anne Grygiel. Anne is an Occupational Therapist—often abbreviated as an OT—who works for Alpha One as an Independent Living Specialist. We found there are a lot of people who don’t know what an Occupational Therapist does, so we asked Anne to talk about the work she does.
She said, “I look at a person’s limits and abilities, and figure out how they can continue to do the things that make their lives meaningful. I look at the environment where people live and work. For AgrAbility, that’s the farm—the house, barns, and outbuildings, fields, and equipment. I break down tasks and show people how to lift, carry, and bend safely. I suggest tools that work ergonomically to reduce repetitious tasks and prevent injuries.”
Ergonomics is the science of designing work spaces and tools so that people are comfortable and their work is efficient, their posture is correct, and the equipment they use is safe and easy to use.
“I take a holistic approach and look at the whole person,” said Anne. “I ask them to come up with goals so I know what’s important to them. OTs may specialize in children, seniors, or Veterans, or for that matter, farmers. For farmers, I can do a tractor seating assessment, and recommend new cushioned seats to reduce vibration [which can irritate arthritis or back pain], or rearview mirrors to prevent twisting your back. You may be having trouble with your shoulders, or your knees, or your back. I will look at the chores you do and the tools you use. The solution could be an adjustment in the way you use your equipment. Or it could be a specially adapted tool that makes better use of body mechanics.”
It takes a broad perspective to work with people of all ages who face different barriers doing all kinds of work in all kinds of environments. Anne has a Masters degree in Occupational Therapy. Her coursework included anatomy and physiology, kinesesiology, psychology, sociology, pediatrics, and gerontology—all necessary to understand people, wellness, and health in its broadest interpretation.
If you are a farmer, working with an Occupational Therapist like Anne can help you address those aches and pains—better yet, avoid them in the first place. Give Maine AgrAbility a call if you think a farm assessment would be helpful: (207) 944-1533 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Assessments are free and your health is priceless. You can also call the Alpha One information and referral service to speak directly with an OT: 1-800-640-7200.
Choosing a Respirator for Farm Work
By Tina Voigt, Maine AgrAbility Coordinator
How often do you think of masks and respirators? In farming, there are many situations when using a mask or respirator is essential to protect your lungs and your overall health. Respiratory hazards might involve:
- Dusts (which can cause or irritate Organic Dust Toxicity Syndrome, Farmer’s Lung Disease, Bronchitis, Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD))
- Livestock & Poultry confinements
- Grain handling
- Using gas or diesel engine indoors (which you should never do unless you’re in an open or well-ventilated area)
- Paints and solvents
Particulates (small particles of a harmful dust, gas, or pesticide) do not need to be seen to enter your respiratory system (from your nose and mouth to your lungs). In fact, particulates are incredibly small and can do significant damage. In some cases, particulates are so small your lungs cannot cough them out.
Before using any kind of respiratory protection, you should have a medical exam to make sure you are healthy enough to use one. Respirators, even a simple dust mask, can restrict regular breathing. If you have asthma, heart disease, claustrophobia, high blood pressure, lung disease, or are extremely sensitive to heat, you may not be okayed for respirator use.
- Make sure you have the right mask for the right job – each job may require a different mask.
- Make sure you have the right fit for the mask; the mask should create a seal on your face.
- Learn how to do a proper fit test.
- Make sure you have a variety of mask types available, and know how and when to use each type for the appropriate situations.
- Consider purchasing a protective equipment storage box (such as an airtight plastic container) – your respiratory protection equipment won’t help if it’s covered in dust it has collected form sitting in the barn.
A simple, one strap dust mask is NOT enough for most farm work – especially if you keep it hanging in your barn and re-use it! Different hazards require different types of respirators. Some respirators purify the air you breathe while others, that require power, supply clean air from a tank strapped to you. You should always use NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) certified respirators. Find out more at this website http://www2a.cdc.gov/drds/cel/cel_form_code.asp.
Once you’ve been approved for respirator use by your doctor, and after you’ve purchased the proper respirator, it’s important to thoroughly clean and maintain your purchase (or throw it away if it’s a one-time use, disposable two-strap mask) so it will be just as effective the next time you use it. To learn more about care of your respirator, see the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s bulletin on Care of Your Respirator. Many pesticide labels
require the handler or applicator to wear specific respiratory protection. Always match your respirator with the pesticide label requirements. For more information about using and selecting a respirator, see the Cooperative Extension’s farm safety bulletin Using and Selecting Respirators .
Simple dust mask style two-strap respirators run from $5-$10 (or $20 for a bulk pack) at your local hardware stores. Face masks that need a filter cartridge run from $30 and up, and you need to replace the cartridges, which run around $10-$20. More advanced filters, such as full-face respirators start around $120. Respirators that provide air, such as a Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), will cost you over $1,000.
Try to limit your time spent around dust and noxious fumes or chemicals for the best protection. If you detect odors or find that your mask is not working properly, exit the area immediately. Your health is too important!
Maine AgrAbility is a project in partnership with the Universityof Maine Cooperative Extension, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England, and Alpha One, Maine’s Center for Independent Living. We partner with farmers who have a chronic health condition or disability to find solutions for continued success at farming. We also work to prevent farm related injuries or secondary injuries/disabilities. For more information, please contact us by telephone: 1-800-287-1471 (toll free in Maineonly) or 207-944-1533, or by email: email@example.com
If you are experiencing chronic pain, it is always a good idea to see your Doctor. If you are in immediate or excruciating pain, you should see your Doctor right away.
Farmers work hard, and that hard work can take a toll on a farmer’s body, sometimes in the form of arthritis. Here are some general tips for managing your arthritis as a farmer. Keep in mind there are many different types of arthritis, and these solutions are only meant to be a guideline. If you are in pain, you should stop what you are doing.
*Information is from the Arthritis and Agriculture, a project in conjunction with the Arthritis Foundation and the National AgrAbility Project. Learn more at their website: http://www.arthritis-ag.org/
Maine AgrAbility team members are leaving our brochures on display at various business throughout the state.
You can currently find our brochures at….
Paris Union Farmer stores in:
- South Paris
- Turner (Route 4)
- Wallingford Equipment
- Slattery’s Farm Store in West Minot
- The Feed Store in Thomaston
- RZA Co. Ace Hardware/Feedstore in Waldoboro
- Campbell’s True Value Agway in Farmingdale
- Knight’s Farm Supply in Richmond
- Ames True Value in Wiscasset
- Aubuchon Hardware in Lisbon Falls
If you would like to display our brochures at your place of business, please contact us!
See the article written by UW Extension
See what the University of Maine Cooperative Extension is doing for Farm Safety
A Farm First Aid Kit is more than just a small kit you pick up from the store; it’s more than a few bandaids to cover a minor cut. A Farm First Aid Kit needs more than the basics, because there is more of a potential for real harm. A Farm First Aid Kit should include items to help stabilize a badly injured person while you wait for Emergency Response Personnel to arrive.
Although not listed as part of a Farm First Aid Kit, a cell phone or walkie-talkie can save your life, or the life of someone in danger – it allows you to call for help quickly.
The following is a blurb from Maine Farm Safety Program’s First Aid Kits for the Farm and Home. For the complete article, please go here:First Aid Kits for the Farm and Home
The following is a list of items that should be in a first aid kit carried in tractors and other farm machinery.
Are You Prepared to Assist an Accident Victim?
There are several considerations to prepare in case of an accident or injury on the farm. Do you have a well-equipped farm first aid kit? Does everyone know where the first aid kit is? Are emergency numbers up to date and posted for all farm workers or family members to see? Have you discussed with employees and family members what to do in case an accident occurs? Are there people on the farm who are trained in first aid or CPR? Your preparation could save a life – and it could be yours. For more information about farm first aid and preparing for accidents, contact UMaine Extension’s AgrAbilty program at 207-944-1533 or visit http://umaine.edu/agrability/
View the University of Maine Cooperative Extension worksheet on First Aid Kits for the Farm and Home
Other helpful resources about Farm Safety and Farm First Aid include (all in PDF form):
National Educational Center for Agricultural Safety – Child safety on the farm
Maine AgrAbility is committed to assisting and empowering people to overcome challenges or limitations to continue farming.
Maine AgrAbility is also interested in preventing farm related injuries, accidents, and illnesses.
This is an introduction to a series of posts that will feature tips on avoiding unintentional injuries and illnesses on the farm. We will also include tips on farming successfully with a chronic illness or after an injury.
Thank you for reading!
If you have any ideas, tips, tricks, or suggestions on farm safety that you would like us to post here, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org