Avoid spring-related farmer fatigue
By Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
Mar. 29, 2016 - It's that time of year when farmers are busy preparing for seeding and spring work. Regrettably, in the hustle and bustle, there is a risk of serious injury due to fatigue.
The Canadian Census of Agriculture regularly finds that fatigue is a major factor in causing farm-related injuries.
"Too many farmers push themselves, especially during the really busy times," says Kenda Lubeck, farm safety coordinator for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. "But nothing should come before a worker's health and safety."
Fatigue often creeps up on a person, so it may be difficult to recognize the onset. In addition to feeling sleepy and tired, some common symptoms of fatigue include:
- Headaches, dizziness, and blurry vision;
- Slow reflexes and reactions, and poor concentration;
- Feeling irritable, moody, and short tempered; and
- Muscles that are weak/ache.
"We often see safety as being all about equipment and guards" says Lubeck, "but the most important safety tool a person can have is their attitude which ultimately affects their personal safety decisions."
It is important that farmers recognize that they can ward off fatigue by:
- Getting adequate sleep;
- Eating nourishing food;
- Staying hydrated with plenty of water;
- Incorporating some healthy activity into the day's work, such as periodic walks/stretches; and
- Planning for physical and mental demands (e.g. adding workers, and not making critical decisions when weary).
Although the human factor is a significant cause of farm-related hazards, safety is about the choices you make. "It just takes a moment to make a decision that could literally be the difference between life and death."