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Fatigue management during busy times on the farm

Harvest time is one of the busiest times of year. Producers put in long hours and have many tasks on the go at once. Even if everything goes smoothly and there aren’t the dreaded breakdowns or weather delays, there’s still a lot of work to do. With all of this pressure and long hours comes the potential for fatigue. Being fatigued can drastically increase the potential for an incident such as equipment damage, close calls or worse — injury.

Primary producers, farm workers and family members all have a role to play in reducing the risk for an incident by managing fatigue. Working together as a team will help everyone be productive and safe.

Plan ahead: Make a list of things that need to be done and assign tasks and timelines. Set reminders. And make sure you have the right equipment in good working order to safely perform the task at hand — for example, are all the lights working to take the combine down the road?

Get enough sleep: This seems obvious but it can be a challenge during harvest time. Most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep per night. You may have to assign some job tasks to others to achieve this.

Be mindful of your diet: Eat regular, healthy meals, and stay hydrated (preferably with water). Avoid foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates. They may give a quick burst of energy but the energy will be short lived.

If you become tired while working: Take a break and stretch for two to five minutes. Or, take a 15-minute catnap (set an alarm). Or, have something to eat or drink.

If you are too tired to safely perform a task: In this case, do not continue. Communicate the problem to someone, and ask for help.

Remember that your safety or the safety of others should be the highest priority. A temporary bout of fatigue could cost more than just a few minutes of your time. Stay safe this harvest season! For more information about farm safety, visit casa-acsa.ca.

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