Kent McGuire – OSU Ag Safety and Health Coordinator
As we progress into summer, there is a full list of work to be done on the farm such as spraying crops, side-dressing corn, baling hay, and moving livestock to pasture. Throughout the workday, a farmer may encounter several types of walking and working surfaces. Farmers have an increased risk of injury from a slip, trip, or fall because of the variety of surfaces they encounter on a regular basis. Areas which have a greater risk for these types of injuries include: sloped terrain, feed lots, areas that are washed down on a daily basis, hay mows, ladders and equipment steps or platforms.
Incidents that can occur on walking and working surfaces.
Trips occur when an obstruction catches the worker’s foot and causes him/her to stumble forward. Tripping hazards include cords, equipment, uneven floor mats, unseen or unexpected objects. These tripping hazards should be picked up and put away after every use. When they are in use, be aware of the danger they could pose in a walkway, such as an electrical cord strung across a sidewalk.
Slips occur when an individual slides along smoothly causing a loss of balance. Slipping hazards include wet, icy, greasy, or soiled ground or floors. Farmers should wear the foot apparel appropriate for the job, such as steel toed and slip resistant boots. Also, take the time to clean up any spills, especially oily material and corrosive materials.
Falls occur when an individual descends or drops freely by the influence of gravity. A fall can happen from any surface, however falls from higher elevations such as ladders, large equipment, elevated surfaces, ramps, or platforms have a higher risk for injury.
Preventing slip, trip, and fall injuries.
Proper housekeeping and lighting of working and walking surfaces can prevent many slip, trip, and fall incidents. However, some additional guidelines to consider when working in an agricultural environment include:
- Utilize handrails or grab bars in areas where there are stairs or changes in elevation.
- Use 3 points of contact when mounting or dismounting equipment and using ladders
(1 hand / 2 feet) or (2 hands / 1 foot).
- In wet or slippery conditions, take smaller steps and try to ensure your torso stays balanced over your feet.
- Use slip resistant matting or provide textured surfaces in potentially wet areas.
- Maintain good housekeeping in livestock barns and work areas, by removing manure and keeping surfaces clean and dry.
- Remove obstructions from travel areas, such as extension cords, power cords, hoses, boxes, or tools.
- Use the proper ladder for the job and follow all warning labels.
- Repair uneven / warped flooring, protruding nails, splinters and loose boards, or cracks in concrete which can create an uneven walking surface.
- Sweep loose hay or grains from areas where those materials are handled and stored.
- Minimize distractions to remain alert to hazards and avoid carrying bulky items that block your view.
- Stay alert to items projecting from buildings or equipment.