University of Vermont

The Women's Agricultural Network

Summer: A Season For Safety

If fall is the season of abundance, summer must be the season of the never-ending to-do list.

It’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of a short production season and work yourself beyond your physical and emotional limits. The consequences are usually unfortunate ­ injury, illness, and anxiety. All result from trying to pack too much work into a short period of time. If you find yourself exhausted, please take a break. Accidents happen more often when we’re tired and our decision-making can get fuzzy.

If you have employees, remember that they need training in safety issues. Try to find a short amount of time on a regular basis­—daily or weekly—­to provide a little refresher on key safety topics. If your employees are adolescents, you’ll have to try harder to get the message across because most teens have a high risk threshold and often don’t want to ask questions or appear as if they don’t know what they are doing.

Insist on appropriate clothing and sun protection for any worker who will be exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Sun-related skin damage may not appear for years but it catches up with us eventually.

Try to mix up activities throughout the day to avoid repetitive motion stress on joints. Encourage employees to take stretch breaks to avoid soreness later. Women are particularly vulnerable to joint damage resulting from repetitive motion, so learn to recognize the signs of joint fatigue and pay attention when your body says it’s had enough.

Have plenty of drinking water on hand, and remind employees of the importance of staying well hydrated during the work day.

Keep an eye on the weather. This time of year storms can pop up quickly and without a lot of warning. Remember, it is possible for lightening to strike well before you actually see a storm coming. Coach your employees on where and when to take shelter if the weather looks threatening.

Keep your first aid kit well stocked. Make sure that everyone knows where it is located and is trained in basic first aid. Post your E-911 address along with directions to your farm near every phone or in prominent locations around the farm. If an emergency occurs you cannot assume that the person making the rescue call will be able to recall this important information.

The most important thing you can do to encourage employees to follow good safety practices is to be a good role model yourself. Actions speak louder than words, so be sure to practice what you preach.

Have a safe and productive season!

Mary Peabody
Women’s Agricultural Network

Last modified May 13 2009 10:10 PM

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