Farmers are constantly surrounded by livestock and machinery and the hazards they pose. Additionally, many other hazards occur on farms such as working at heights or emptying slurry tanks. Penny Gavin, Teagasc / H.S.A./ UCD Walsh Scholar on Farm Safety advises on staying alert by avoiding tiredness
Farmers need to be 100% alert at all times to prevent an injury from occurring due to the many potential hazards on the farm.
Long hours and busy periods of the year lead to tiredness and rushing, which reduce farmer alertness. Many farmers work on their own and this, coupled with tiredness, can lead to serious injury.
Tiredness is a major factor in many farm accidents
The Health and Safety Authority have reported that tiredness is a major factor in many farm accidents. The Road Safety Authority described driver fatigue as a ‘silent killer’ contributing to as many as one in five driver deaths on Irish roads each year.
Organisation leads to better time efficiency meaning that farmers can reduce time taken to do a job. This will allow you to take a proper break for lunch or to finish up on time in the evening. Also, you will get adequate time for leisure and rest so that you will feel refreshed the following day.
Rushing to get a job done can lead to an injury occurring so taking the time to plan your work week and prepare will not only help with work efficiency and but also reduce the chances of an injury occurring.
There are only so many hours in the day. Time is limited and is a valuable resource so its use must be maximised. Using contractors at busy times of the year and booking a relief workers such as a relief milker is important in managing your workload and preventing burn out. Arranging contractors and additional workers should be done well in advance so that all parties can make work related plans.
Developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) is an organised way of evaluating the steps each task requires and documenting the safe and efficient way of carrying it out. When people come to your farm to carry out a task like milking you will be able to give them these SOP’s and provide instruction to help them fully understand the steps required in each task. When the handover of work is managed well you will find it easier to identify jobs that you can get help with and people will be much more willing to come to work in your farm.
To find out more about SOP’s watch this short video below
Teagasc held a webinar focusing on how SOP’s and how the LEAN process can be used to help improve efficiency on farm. View below
Long hours lead to little time to relax with family and friends which affects quality of life and health in the long term. Burn out and ill health means that there is nobody to operate the farm effectively. To avoid this it is important to try to schedule time away from the farm, get help, get a good night’s sleep, drink plenty of water and eat proper meals.
Improving and modernising your farm facilities is another effective way of cutting workload and cutting out rushing and tiredness. Planning such improvements takes time so summer time is a good time to reflect on the previous busy periods to identify changes needed. Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) TAMSII grant aid is currently available for modernising farm facilities including health and safety items. Now is a good time to consider making an application with your advisor/ consultant in advance of the last tranche on November 5th 2021.
This week is Farm Safety Week. Find out more about it on the Teagasc Farm Safety Week webpage.