By Sharry Nielsen
Longer days, nicer weather, outdoor fun, or maybe a list of tasks to be completed are calling many of us out of the house. It is so easy to just “head out”. But when was the last time you took a safety inventory of your farm, ranch or acreage?
A health and safety inspection is something the whole family can be involved in. Not only can you find hazards – and take action to fix any problem – but it is also an excellent way to teach children safe and healthy situations.
Over 100 children’s lives are lost across the U.S. each year in farm-related accidents and many of those are not work-related. Add to that the countless injuries sustained and it is easy to see why creating a safe play area should be one of the first steps a family takes to ensure safety.
A safe play area is located away from traffic and farmstead hazards. It is designated by physical barriers like fences, gates, shrubs or trees. It has play equipment appropriate for the age of children who are using it. It can be supervised by adults constantly or intermittently, depending on the age and need of the children.
A safe play area encourages children to play and be physically active away from the work area on the farm.
Some other ways to protect folks on your farm or ranch include:
- Secure hazardous areas like farm shops or livestock pens with locking doors or gates with safety closures.
- Store chemicals and petroleum products in their original containers and in locked buildings or cabinets. Kids don’t know that you put your green anti-freeze in a water bottle to pour more easily, and may reach for it when they get thirsty.
- Put equipment away after each use, whether a power tool, a hand rake, or the mower for your tractor, to prevent falls or trips.
- Keep ladders out of reach of children and stored away from the sides of buildings.
- Locate fire extinguishers and first aid kits in appropriate places and know how to use them. Check on a regular basis to be sure all pieces are clean and ready for use.
- Set “off limits” boundaries for machinery or hazardous areas – and stick to it!
- Remove keys from all machinery and vehicles when you leave them. Store keys in a central place for access by those who need to use the machinery.
A “safety first” attitude will go a long way in preventing injuries on farms, ranches and acreages. As you look at new tasks, new ways of doing your jobs, or take on new ventures, think first how you can accomplish what you want to do in as safe a manner as possible. Others will learn by your example.