This dry hot summer where crops grow slowly might be an opportunity for farm families to take a look at how safe their farmstead is for family and employees.
Agricultural safety specialists at the National Farm Medicine Center in Marshfield suggest taking a walk around the farm with safety in mind. Focus on hazards without regard to how much money or time it would take to fix them. Then prioritize the findings.
They say there are two main causes of injuries on farms: animals and machinery. Other causes include chemical hazards, confined spaces, manure lagoons, power tools and slips and falls.
Many of those injured on farms are children. Farm injuries to children cost $1.4 billion a year. It is important that families take a close look at their farms and where their children are playing.
CONSIDER THESE THINGS
When children assist with duties and care for their show animals, check their clothing. Do they have sturdy shoes or boots or other necessary safety attire? If they are in a pen with their show animal (even a small calf) is there an easy way out?
Are children 6 years and younger kept out of work sites? Are hazardous work or storage areas locked to keep children out?
Are jobs assigned according to the North American Guidelines for Children's Agricultural Tasks (www.nagat.org)?
Is there a fenced safe play area for children?
Are chemicals (including livestock medications and milk house cleaners) in the original container and properly labeled and stored out of reach of children?
Are floor openings or platforms guarded?
Are ponds and lagoons and manure pits fenced off and posted with warning signs?
TRAFFIC ON FARMS
Moving vehicles in farm yards pose a danger to children playing on the farm. As farms get bigger there is more and more traffic in the farm yards. Sales persons, delivery trucks, milk trucks, and farm equipment operated by employees are moving around and the drivers often are giving their attention to the job at hand and may not notice children in the area.
With that in mind, it is important to make sure children have a safe fenced in area away from farmyard traffic.
Brownsville farmer Tom Bigl was concerned about his children's safety when he made the decision to build a home for their family away from the main farmstead. They turned their farm house into employee housing and relocated their family just down the road from the farm where he felt his children could play safely in their yard without concern about trucks and tractors moving around.
A Neosho family relocated an unused round wire corn crib to an area near the calf barn. They cut the crib down so the roof would provide shade for the children to play in while mom feeds calves nearby.
Some families have posted signs in the farm yard reminding those driving onto the farm yard to be aware of children.
Every farm is different and families need to consider their own resources and farmsteads. Safety, however, should remain a priority for all farm families.