Sometimes farm safety starts in the workshop. Take these tips to heart and save a life on your farm
We often think of the “big” dangers on a farm. Cows. Tractors. Trucks. Combines. We too often forget that there are small and yet quite deadly dangers lurking in plain sight.
Working in your farm shop doesn’t sound dangerous. It may even feel safer than being out in the field. But there are dangers there that can catch you off guard with tragic consequences.
Take a look around your shop:
- Do you have open pails of grease or oil? These can easily trap and kill an animal or a child.
- That bucket of spare parts, covered in lubricant and grease, is highly toxic to children and can be a choke hazard as well.
- Chemicals are toxic and need to be stored properly. Store empty containers properly and then recycle them at your local depot.
- Remember, even a small leak of some gasses can accumulate and ignite with a spark. Is your welder or torch too near flammables?
- Have you checked the condition of your valves, gauges and hoses?
- Do you have propane or butane torches stored too near a heat source?
- Do you have a shop barbeque? Is it in a safe spot for all weather use?
- What about your ventilation? If you are warming up a piece of equipment make sure you are not subjecting yourself to those high doses of deadly carbon monoxide. If it is too cold to keep the doors open, be sure to have an exhaust hose piping those fumes safely outside the shop, and away from other buildings and animals.
Safety and small tools
Even small tools in the shop can be very dangerous. Grinders are a good example — sparks and bits of metal fly into unprotected eyes but also can impact with your breathing and hearing. Remember what your Grandpa said: “take care of your tools so they can take care of you.”
- Are you wearing the proper protective gear every time?
- Your air compressor is a surprisingly dangerous tool. There are many stories of producers over inflating a tire and having it and the rim blow up. This can be a fatal error.
- Check your non-powered handtools.
- Take a look at your hammers. Are the heads loose, the grips loose or the fibre cracked? Discard them.
- Check your screwdrivers, sockets, wrenches and other tools for wear.
- Check your power tools. Rechargeable ones too. Look for wear, melted areas, cord fraying and lose housing parts. These can all indicate wear that could lead to failure, and that failure could lead to injury. For most farmers, even a relatively small injury that keeps you away from your work can have a serious impact on your operation.
More shop safety
Make sure everyone on your farm — family, workers, helpers and guests — knows the proper use for your tools and how to put them away properly. Something that trips you in the shop can cause a serious injury. That includes cords, hoses, tools and scraps from grinding, cutting and welding.
Have recycle and trash bins handy and keep them empty. An overflowing bin is as much as hazard as no bin. Keep your floors clean. Grease or oil spills, ice and water are all serious slip hazards. Check for chips in your concrete or gaps. Maintain your buildings like you would your machinery and they will be safer work places.
If you have a staff room or kitchen in your shop make sure it is away from any chemicals, dust and exhaust. Make sure you have clean water and a well-stocked first aid kit. Take a first aid course and know what to do in an emergency. The way to save a life is knowing what to do while you wait for emergency services to arrive. Practice your plan and be prepared. Let someone know when you are in the shop, what you are doing and set a check in time. †