Working in the agricultural industry is not for the faint hearted. Farmers, suppliers and distrib utors are all subject to some of the most challenging working conditions across the country, meaning that the threat from occupational hazards in the agricultural industry is significant. This risk comes with working in the industry, but workers should be properly equipped, trained and prepared for the hazards they may face on a daily basis. Let’s explore some of these hazards and discuss how workers can avoid workplace injury or illness.
One of the more obvious occupational hazards in agriculture is the extensive variety of heavy machinery and equipment that is used industry wide. Farmers will be well accustomed to working around heavy-duty moving vehicles such as tractors, combines and trailers, as well as road vehicles such as lorries and vans. These machines can be deadly to those who aren’t paying attention or are unsure of how to operate them. Proper training should be provided to all workers around this machinery and anyone operating such vehicles should be appropriately qualified.
Although some animals are fairly tranquil, livestock is a real and significant hazard for those working in some agricultural sectors. Managing livestock can be dangerous because of unpredictable and sometimes abrupt animal behaviour, or even just the sheer size and mass of some livestock. Farm workers are urged to wear safety footwear, preferably with steel toe caps, to protect their feet from being stepped on by a cow, for example. Bites and scratches are also a serious risk, particularly where diseases and infections are common among livestock.
Agricultural work is often strenuous and physically demanding on the body. Thus, physical injuries, strains and pains are common among such workforces. Proper technique should be applied when lifting, transporting or carrying heavy or awkward items. Workers should also ensure that they stay hydrated in hot weather conditions, particularly when doing manual labour tasks throughout the day.
Agricultural environments are typically home to a number of hazardous chemicals or substances. Pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers and ammonia products are often used to protect crops or support other farming processes. These should be stored away securely to avoid accidental exposure or leaks. Proper protective clothing and equipment should be worn at all times when working with these substances.
Dangerous Work Conditions
The majority of agricultural work takes place outside, where harsh or extreme weather conditions can impact workers significantly. Driving rain, freezing temperatures, and winds can increase the risks of hypothermia. Blistering sun and heatwaves, on the other hand, can cause dehydration and sunstroke. Workers should wear the appropriate clothing and ensure they are eating and drinking properly. Furthermore, agricultural work can often be done at a height or on slippery surfaces, adding another level of risk.
The occupational hazards in the agricultural industry is significant and unforgiving. But if you are prepared and careful, you should be able to mitigate the risks enough to keep yourself and your colleagues safe.