DFB hosts conference to promote farm safety
HARRINGTON, Del. (March 13, 2018) — The second annual Delaware Ag Safety Conference held March 7 at the State Fairgrounds offered farmers suggestions for several ways to improve safety — in personal health and well-being, in farm asset protection and in meeting regulations for safe handling of farm chemicals.
The event was hosted by Delaware Farm Bureau.
Following a presentation on preventing skin cancer by avoiding ultraviolet light exposure, wearing hats that cover ears and neck, use of sunscreen and a regular check for abnormal moles, Delaware Ag Secretary Michael Scuse said he wished he’d heard those warnings years ago, before he’d had to have several operations for basal cell removal from his face.
He also wished he had heard the presentation on hearing loss.
“After being on a tractor for 15 or 16 hours, for the next two hours all I can hear is ringing,” he said.
“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Delaware Farm Bureau and others in this safety conference. I wish we had started years ago,” he told attendees.
“We are making progress. The number of deaths from accidents on farms has been decreasing for the last three years, but we have a long way to go. Even one death is one too many. Most are farm machinery related.
“Farming is a dangerous occupation. Farm machinery is much bigger and more complex than 50 years ago. … We are dealing with a public that has no idea about farm equipment. When we are moving equipment in fall and spring, farmers are literally sitting ducks when we hit the road with farm machinery.
“Last year I said we do some foolish things. We have all done things when we knew better. We need to take a step back and look at what we’re doing — and we need to help educate the next generation.”
Delaware Farm Bureau President Kitty Holtz thanked June Unruh, chair of the Rural Road Safety Campaign, for all she has done to get that program and the ag safety conference started.
Unruh thanked all sponsors, partners and exhibitors.
Major sponsors included Delaware State Grange, Delaware Department of Agriculture, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension and Nationwide Insurance.
Tom Fisher of Beltone limited his formal presentation on hearing loss in farming, opting to give farmers more time for questions. “There are all kinds and types of hearing aids; all are good if they help you hear better,” he said.
Asked at what age one should start having hearing tested, Fisher replied that any time hearing loss is suspected, it should be checked, even in children. Babies with severe hearing loss can have cochlear implants by the age of 18 months so they can learn speech. There have been lots of advancements in hearing technology, he added.
For adults, he said, “If people complain that you turn the TV too loud, you need testing.” He offered free hearing tests for those in attendance.
Hearing aids can assist in hearing better in a crowded room or in hearing certain tones. Being around machinery for a long time can make it difficult to hear higher pitched tones, like a woman’s voice, he said.
Fisher said he had set up a discount program in the 1980s which later went nationwide. There are several organizations that have different benefits. Beltone offices will help clients find where they can save the most money.
Asked about ear plugs, he replied, “Any kind is better than no plug, but you are better off wearing ear muffs with heavy equipment.”
Ben King, Nationwide risk management consultant, urged participants to discuss with their insurance agent any planned changes in their operations that might increase their exposure to risk or lawsuit. “Review what you are planning to make sure coverage is in place before starting an activity or conducting an event,” King said.
Before that discussion you will need details such as type of event, number of people anticipated, and what controls will be in place to create a safe environment for visitors.
If someone will sue McDonald’s for coffee that is too hot, what would they sue you for? Points to consider are parking areas, including visibility when entering and exiting; clean entryways; limited access to hazardous areas; safety features such as railings around wagons used for hay rides; hand-washing areas at petting zoos and having emergency plans in place. Forbid smoking near corn mazes and have a way to keep tabs on participants. Some people have gotten lost in a maze and called 9-1-1.
Even if you do not invite the public onto your farm, you are responsible for “attractive nuisances” — anything that has the potential to draw children to come and play such as a silo or manure pit. Fences and signs offer you some protection, but you should do everything possible to keep people from harm, even trespassers.
Jack Wilson, Delaware Fire School senior instructor of rescue programs, grew up in Wilmington and admitted he knew nothing about farms until he moved to Seaford nine years ago. He offered a few suggestions on how to help in case of an emergency on your farm. With a poultry house fire, for example, shut off generators, fans and feed augers.
Hazardous materials such as farm chemicals should be clearly labeled.
If you have irrigation, consider adding a fire department connection. Water supply is one of the fire department’s biggest issues, particularly in a rural area. Fire engines can only carry so much water. Wilson said J.C. Willin, a member of Seaford Fire Department, had put in a connection on his irrigation system years ago which has been “an invaluable resource.”
There are times when you yourself will be the first responder and must act to save a life, as with severe bleeding. Bonny King, RN and trauma coordinator at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, and a member of the King Crop Insurance family, demonstrated how to “Stop the Bleed.” After assuring your safety and the victim’s, call 9-1-1-, then find the source of bleeding. Control bleeding by applying direct pressure and packing a gaping wound. Using even a dirty shirt is better than having someone bleed to death, which can happen in five minutes. For extremities, use a tourniquet if necessary. Treat for shock.
Kerry Richards, PhD, of University of Delaware’s Pesticide Safety Education Program, demonstrated the University of Delaware’s new website that allows growers to easily access the information needed regarding pesticide certification, pesticide regulatory compliance, and other pest management concerns.
Her presentation included a discussion of changes in Worker Protection Standards which went into full implementation on Jan. 2.
WPS rules apply not just to applicators but to any employee who might go into a treated area within certain time frames. There are also exclusion zones that apply even to a passer-by walking down the road, which may require an applicator to change his or her route through a field.
You must train workers on pesticides being used — not someday, but immediately, Richards stressed, and not every five years, but annually. Trainers who provide WPS training must either be a certified applicator or complete an EPA approved Train-The-Trainer Course. Such a course will be offered by the Delaware PSEP on March 28 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown. For additional details or to register for the program contact Richards via email at email@example.com or by calling 814-880–0013.
There are new posters available which must be posted in a central location, even on the side of an outdoor bathroom in a field. The poster must indicate where the nearest medical facility is, the nearest Department of Agriculture and regulatory agency, and how to avoid exposure and what if exposed. Material Safety Data Sheets for any pesticide applied in the last 30 days must be readily available.
“Anything that kills, controls or manages a pest is a pesticide,” Richards explained, so herbicides are included. “Even a flea collar on a dog is a pesticide.”
Another new requirement is that anyone, including immediate family, who wears a respirator must have a medical evaluation (which can be completed online for $25) and an OSHA fit test.
The March 28 meeting will cover these WPS changes, Richards said.
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