Avoiding the Emergency Room This Winter

Richard Purdin ANR/CD Educator Adams County

Winter is here and with winter comes inclement weather, unfortunately farmers and ranchers must tend to their chores no matter what mother nature may throw at them. The farm is filled with hazards and risk for slipping and falling.  During winter, this risk is elevated due to ice, wind, snow, and extreme low temperatures. In 2017 OSHA reported that 20% of workplace injuries were caused by slipping and falling in winter weather conditions.  Precautions need to be taken when working in the winter elements. No matter how important a task may seem, it is never more important than your health and safety. Here are just a few considerations and hints to help you avoid spending your new years in the hospital.

  • Be aware of your environment. Before heading out make sure to check weather conditions and be aware of any forecast changes that may take place throughout the day.
  • Dress appropriately for different weather conditions.  Wear proper footwear with non-slip tread. Sunglasses or transition lenses help reduce snow blindness.
  • Take your time- once you are outside be sure to allocate extra time to complete your task. Avoid running and quick changes in direction.
  • Avoid carrying heavy and bulky material – even if it means making an extra trip, carrying light, small loads help you maintain balance and vision.
  • If possible, store tractors, and other farm machinery in a barn- this will eliminate ice and snow developing on steps, ladders, and entry doors. Remember to mount or enter equipment using 3-point approach (2 feet/1 hand or 2 hands/1 foot).
  • Always have essential supplies on hand- this includes salt, shovel, and scrapers to clear ice and snow from walkways and other heavily utilized areas around the farm.
  • Maintain water drainage- make sure rainwater from feedlots, machinery sheds, grain bins/silos, and roadways do not pool in one spot. This can go a long way in avoiding a slipping hazard when the water freezes.
  • Be extra alert when working around livestock – keep extra distance from livestock in conditions that may allow them to slip and fall.
  • Be extra cautious around livestock watering facilities and manure platforms or push off ramps. Splashing water or liquid manure can freeze and create a slipping hazard.

Other resources can be found at https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/aex-79015

Richard Purdin, ANR / CD Educator Adams County, can be reached at 937-544-2339 or purdin.19@osu.edu. This column is provided by the OSU Agricultural Safety and Health Team. https://agsafety.osu.edu/