California Farmers Must Take Safety Precautions As They Age

Posted on September 23, 2013

As various parts of California get ready to participate in harvest season, it’s important to always keep safety in mind.  In fact, the necessity of taking the proper precautions when harvesting only grows with age.  Many farmers are used to pushing themselves hard day in and day out, but this can turn dangerous as a person gets older.

The truth is that there will come a time when every farmer must realize they must reduce their time out in the field.  That’s not to say that work and chores must be sidelined entirely, but certain hazards must be understood so that safety isn’t compromised.  To that end, some valuable safety tips have come out from Ohio State geared toward older farmers.

First, realize the limitations placed on your body as you get older.  For one thing, you may not be able to see as well as you used to, especially if you’re forced to go from dark to bright areas very quickly.  Crossing between the two should happen as little as possible, and you should strive to make light levels uniform across your farm.  You should install lighting systems in darkened barns and wear sunglasses so that the brightness doesn’t get to you outside.  You should also submit to eye exams on a yearly basis (or close to it).

Climbing also becomes difficult as an individual ages.  The importance of always keeping three points of contact on a given piece of equipment or structure grows dramatically when a slip and fall can lead to a serious medical issue.  Limit climbing if you can, but if you absolutely must climb, work within your capacity.  Don’t worry about not being able to meet the workload you had before.  When you climb, never have less than three points, and if you feel yourself faltering, get down if you can.  Have someone spot you when you climb.

Some tasks will take their toll on your body regardless of your age.  When you lift, make sure you stay in the habit of putting the weight on your legs rather than your back.  Don’t twist your body as you lift.  Take longer and more regular breaks between repetitive tasks, and cease the action the moment you start to hurt.

Finally, be cognizant of the threat of a fall hazard around your farm.  Try to avoid those areas that will have you walking through patchy dirt or fields with slopes and divots.  Clear debris away from walking paths or other areas you’re going to be working, and always have a plan in place to call for help should you fall and be unable to get up.

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