Avoid Spring-Related Farmer Fatigue

  From the April 4, 2016 issue of Agri-News
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 It’s that time of year when farmers are busy preparing for seeding and spring work. Regrettably, in the hustle and bustle, there is a risk of serious injury due to fatigue. The Canadian Census of Agriculture regularly finds that fatigue is a major factor in causing farm-related injuries. “Too many farmers push themselves, especially during the really busy times,” says Kenda Lubeck, farm safety coordinator for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “But nothing should come before a worker’s health and safety.”

Fatigue often creeps up on a person, so it may be difficult to recognize the onset. In addition to feeling sleepy and tired, some common symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Headaches, dizziness, and blurry vision;
  • Slow reflexes and reactions, and poor concentration;
  • Feeling irritable, moody, and short tempered; and
  • Muscles that are weak/ache.
“We often see safety as being all about equipment and guards” says Lubeck, “but the most important safety tool a person can have is their attitude which ultimately affects their personal safety decisions.”

It is important that farmers recognize that they can ward off fatigue by:

  • Getting adequate sleep;
  • Eating nourishing food;
  • Staying hydrated with plenty of water;
  • Incorporating some healthy activity into the day’s work, such as periodic walks/stretches; and
  • Planning for physical and mental demands (e.g. adding workers, and not making critical decisions when weary).
Although the human factor is a significant cause of farm-related hazards, safety is about the choices you make. “It just takes a moment to make a decision that could literally be the difference between life and death.”

Kenda Lubeck
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Kenda Lubeck.
This document is maintained by Amber Gosselin.
This information published to the web on March 28, 2016.
Last Reviewed/Revised on March 29, 2016.