Orono, Maine — 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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).
About University of Maine Cooperative Extension: As a trusted resource for almost 100 years, University of Maine Cooperative Extension has supported UMaine’s land and sea grant public education role by conducting community-driven, research-based programs in every Maine county. UMaine Extension helps support, sustain and grow the food-based economy. It is the only entity in our state that touches every aspect of the Maine Food System, where policy, research, production, processing, commerce, nutrition, and food security and safety are integral and interrelated. UMaine Extension also conducts the most successful out-of-school youth educational program in Maine through 4-H.
Contact: Lani Carlson, email@example.com, 207.944.1533
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Farming doesn’t stop in the winter: animals still need to be fed, chores completed, fences repaired. Here are some reminders for farmers who are working out in the cold, adapted from a winter hiking tip sheet.
1. Dress like an onion.
You know it – dress in layers. Wait 10 minutes and the weather is liable to change so having a variety of insulating clothing will help you regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable. It’s also a good idea to have two layers of gloves or mittens, one for insulation and one for waterproofing.
2. Pace yourself and start early.
Be reasonable about the duration and difficulty of a task. While the task might be a cinch in warmer weather, ice or snow can change the work. Also consider access around your farm and equipment. The sun sets much earlier in the winter months, plan accordingly to finish your work before dark to avoid having an accident.
3. Bring safety gear.
There are a few basic items that every farmer should carry in case of emergency. Aside from basic work personal protective equipment (PPE) a first aid kit, a pocket knife or multi-tool, a headlamp and a radio or cell phone.
4. Keep and eye on the weather.
Keep an eye on the weather conditions, not just the temperature. Changing conditions can alter accessibility, visibility and mobility.
5. Watch your step.
When the conditions are icy, be sure to use salt or sand in work areas. Or try using cleats or ice-crunchers on your boots; they will give you extra traction too. Take it slow when you’re starting out to avoid accidents.
6. Tell someone where you’ll be working.
You should always tell someone where you’ll be working and when you’ll be done. In case of an accident, someone will notice if you don’t show up at the right time.
It is essential to drink plenty of water when working outside in the winter, as dehydration is a common problem. Add some comfort to your work by bringing coffee or cocoa in a thermos. A hot beverage can warm you up and provide a nice break from chores.
8. Invest in good work gear.
There are some basic items that every farmer should be prepared to buy: waterproof pants and jacket, waterproof boots, an insulated jacket, hats and gloves as well as eye protection (sun glasses). It can be expensive when you’re getting started, but by dressing in layers, most of the gear can be useful in any season.
9. Be prepared to finish at another time.
Don’t hesitate to stop and take a break if the conditions look dangerous. Finishing the farm chore is just half the journey; you must have time and energy left over to finish your other daily farm chores.
10. Fuel your body.
Be sure to fuel your body with nutritious food and healthy meals. Keeping your body safe and running is the best way to keep farming in the future.
(Adapted from “10 Tips for Safe and Comfortable Winter Hiking”, 3/7/08, http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/10-tips-for-safe-and-comfortable-winter-hiking/)