Red Wing Emergency Department physician provides farm safety tips

October 13, 2016

RED WING, Minn. — Now that the harvest season is upon us, it’s important for those in the farming community to be well prepared and safe. Long hours, powerful machinery and isolated jobs all make the risk of farm-related injuries, which can often be fatal, quite high. However, remembering a few dependable safety practices and picking up a new tip or two can help you avoid a serious accident.

Gregory Kays, M.D., Mayo Clinic Health System Emergency Department physician, provides these tips for farm safety:

Stay rested. Being overtired creates an impaired mental state comparable to intoxication. Most farmers wouldn’t consider operating their equipment while drunk, but many still work 20-hour days during fall harvest. Don’t sacrifice your well-being for the sake of efficiency.

Take breaks. It’s important to reset and refocus from time to time. Take regular breaks to give your body and mind a chance to recuperate.

Stay hydrated, and don’t skip meals. Dehydration and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can be more dangerous than you may realize. Ensure you’re drinking plenty of water and eating consistent, nutritious meals throughout the day.

Work during daylight hours. The more hours you put in after dark, the greater your risk of injury. Do the bulk of your work while the sun is still up.

Carry a first aid kit with a tourniquet. Do you have a first aid kit with a tourniquet? If not, you really should. These tools save lives and limbs. Of injured people who die from blood loss, half die within 30 minutes. Uncontrolled bleeding from arms and legs is the most preventable cause of death in injured patients. It’s so important to control and stop the bleeding.

Did you know?

  • Uncontrolled bleeding to the arms and legs can be managed with direct pressure and tourniquets.
  • Uncontrolled bleeding to the torso junctional locations (groin, shoulder, armpit and neck) can be managed with direct pressure or wound packing.
  • Uncontrolled bleeding in the chest and abdomen (internal bleeding) cannot be managed outside the hospital.

Keep a first aid kit with a tourniquet close by — in your truck, combine or both.

Follow Best Management Practices (BMPs). Respect recommended usage of safety mechanisms and shields on your equipment. Don’t use shortcuts because they’re more convenient — you’ll end up compromising your safety.

Create a plan. Employ a safety check-in process for your family and/or team. Share how long you plan to be working, and set ongoing check-in times so someone knows whether or not you’re OK. If you’re caught in a machine or bleeding in a field without the ability to call for help, things could end up dire.

“At the end of the day, we want farmers to get home safely to their families,” says Dr. Kays. “Ensuring safe practices are part of our farmers’ routines this harvest season will help yield a healthy harvest for all.”