Staying Safe on the Farm — Seven Safety Hazards You’re Unaware Of
July 23, 2018
While one of the largest industries in Canada, farming can also be one of the most dangerous. When working on or visiting a farm, large machinery and confined storage spaces are not the only things to think about.
There are several other areas that can be equally as dangerous. Luckily, most of these dangers can be avoided with proper awareness and preparation. Here are 7 hazardous areas you should familiarize yourself with while on any farm.
Drainage trenches are dug to help drain large bodies of water and are often hard to see. Their whereabouts may be unknown to everyone but the person who dug them. This is an accident waiting to happen for unsuspecting vehicles or recreational vehicles traveling at high speeds across land.
If you are the owner of the land, be sure to clearly mark these specific sections of land. Make sure visitors and younger children are aware of what areas they should avoid entirely.
Bale yards are another common place for children to explore. Though typically fenced off, these areas can be dangerous for everyone. Bales are generally placed with space between the rows. If someone is walking on top of these bales, they could easily fall off into the gap and become trapped.
This is especially dangerous in winter with the addition of snow and possibility of hypothermia. Bales are also sometimes placed three or more rows high, resulting in injury if someone happens to fall off of the top.
Junk yards or garbage pits can be attractive places for children or pets to explore. They are, however, often filled with harmful items if not disposed of properly. Open pits should be located as far away from the home as possible so that easy access is restricted. As well, let every family member or visitor know when burns are taking place so that they know when to avoid the area.
Large deposits of standing water are another hazard that you and your family should always be aware of. The locations of sloughs or large bodies of water should be made common knowledge for everyone and access to them should be prohibited unless completely necessary.
This is especially important after rainy periods, as these areas might have grown substantially and made the surrounding ground softer and more susceptible to get stuck in.
One of the most deadly hazards on any farm is electricity. This can come in the form of overhead or underground lines, as well as electrified fences or buried power silos. You should always use a spotter when working around power lines with large equipment, and call or visit ClickBeforeYouDig.com to get a line locate before starting ANY digging project.
If you ever come across a downed power line, stay at least 10 metres away and call SaskPower immediately. Power and water don’t mix. If you’re setting up a temporary or permanent pool, never place them underneath power lines. Call SaskPower if you think a power line over your deck or patio is too low and causing a potential safety hazard.
Between the large machinery, barns and storage silos, there are several dangerously high areas on farms that could result in serious injury. Like any other hazard on the list, two-way communication regarding these areas is key to keeping yourself and others safe.
If you are the landowner, try to restrict any ladder access to these areas—especially when your family or friends are unsupervised. Always use proper safety measures (harnesses, etc.) when working in high places.
All farm animals, even pets, can be unpredictable. This is especially true when they are protecting their newborn babies, or if they become spooked.
If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with animals you should always be supervised. Always be alert and aware around farm animals, even if you have been around the same animals your entire life.
All of these hazards can be avoided with proper preparation and communication with your family or anyone visiting your farm. Safety meetings before heading out are a good way to keep these areas top of mind. They can also keep everyone up-to-date on new potential hazards with seasonal changes. If it is your farm, draw out a map highlighting the hazardous areas including sloughs, burning pits and overhead lines, so that dangers can be easily shared and understood.