Ouch! Tips from Ag Safety Day
Blog: Everyday Business
February 23, 2012
Here’s the bottom line, and don’t you forget it: “Be careful out there.”
That was the implied message behind eight solid hours of workshops and seminars Wednesday during the 8th Annual Agricultural Safety Day co-sponsored by the state Department of Labor & Industries and the Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board.
Held at the Wenatchee Convention Center, the program drew more than 150 participants — farm and orchard owners, managers, workers and safety coordinators — in what was the largest Ag Safety Day yet. Programs were offered in both English and Spanish.
Some topics: how to safely drive a forklift or ATV, dangers of sleep deprivation and fatigue, why you might trip and fall, getting zapped by unexpected electrical hazards and how language barriers can add up to accidents.
(In photo: Stephen Bao, at right, attaches a sensor to measure muscular effort on the arm of a volunteer.)
The seminar that drew our attention was “The Top Five Injuries and Hazards in Agriculture,” which brought to mind all sorts of gory scenarios — tractor rollovers, falls from grain elevators, aluminum ladders tangled in electric wires, clouds of poisons and pools of acid baths.
As it turns out, those things happen, but rarely.
According to Stephen Bao, an L&I research analyst, the No. 1 ag accident occurs when a worker gets struck by something or accidentally bumps against a solid, immovable object. You know … bonking your head on a low overhang, backing into a machine lever you didn’t see, bashing a shin against a trailer hitch. That kind of thing.
The No. 2 accident is “musculoskeletal disorders,” the fancy-schmancy name for pulled muscles, carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain and a host of other minor to traumatic conditions.
The Top Five list wraps up with falls from elevated heights (ladders or loading docks), falls from same levels (tripping) and abraded injuries (scrapes and pokes).
Bao offered the list and tons of accompanying stats — frequency, severity, costs in time and money — so that safety coordinators from North Central Washington’s farm and orchards could work to avoid such things and give a heads up, literally, to employees.
“Being aware of risky situations is the first step towards avoiding accidents,” he said.