It's February, when farm planning is in full swing, Pennsylvania's only beloved groundhog is predicting the weather, and thoughts are turning to love on Valentine's Day. February is also National Pesticide Safety Education Month, and a great time to show your family and your farm some love by planning for safety.
Agriculture and forestry are among the most hazardous industries in the U.S. While the work can be satisfying, it comes with the responsibility of recognizing dangers and learning how to stay safe.
According to Penn State University's annual farm safety data, "In 2022 there were 37 known farm and agricultural fatalities in Pennsylvania. This is a significant increase from the 16 fatalities documented in 2021, and also greater than the longer-term average; for example, the annual average from 2015-2019 was 27 fatalities." With eight fatalities in adults 65 and older and six in children 10 and younger, data suggest that the very young and older adults are at higher risk of fatal incidents.
The PA Department of Agriculture reminds you to take these steps to keep your farm safe, this February.
Staying Safe When Using Pesticides:
- Always read the label before using a pesticide product.
- Always use products according to their labels.
- Read the label to ensure you are using the appropriate amount of pesticide for where and how you are using it.
- Store pesticides in the original container with proper labels.
- Store pesticides out of the reach of children and away from food and pets– a locked cabinet is the best option.
- Use protective measures as directed by the label when handling pesticides. These include wearing impermeable gloves, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts.
- Wash clothes that have come into contact with a pesticide separate from other laundry.
- Wash hands with soap and water after using a pesticide.
- Take precautions to keep the pesticide from drifting onto unintended targets, such as not applying in windy conditions, near water sources, where children play, or where pets and livestock feed.
- Keep the telephone number of your area Poison Control Center near your telephone: 1-800-222-1222.
- If you have questions about pesticide products or their use, reach out to your local PennState Extension office, or the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at 1-800-858-7378
General Farm Safety Tips and BMPs would include:
- Educate yourself. Before you begin, learn the details and risks of your specific project.
- Inspect and repair farm machinery before the busy season. A well-maintained machine will operate more efficiently and reduce the chance of an injury.
- Test equipment and replace missing or inoperable power take-off shields. Disengage power shields before getting off of the equipment.
- Shut off power equipment before leaving the equipment operator's station.
- Check that lights, flashers and reflectors on machines work properly. Always use them when traveling on roadways.
- Replace "slow moving vehicle" emblems that aren't clean and bright.
- Use proper equipment and procedures when hitching and unhitching implements.
- Never enter a manure pit, grain bin or silo without following confined space entry procedures – gases can build up to deadly levels in these areas.
- Ensure that all workers receive specific instructions on their tasks and the machines they are operating.
- Take time to learn basic first aid, CPR and emergency response, and review with family and farmworkers frequently
- Do not assign jobs to children and teenagers unless they are physically and mentally ready to perform the job safely, and can follow directions and respond to unexpected situations. Know and follow child labor restrictions for minors who are not part of your family.
- Check your fire extinguishers to make sure they are in good working order, installed in a visible location, and everyone on the farm knows where to find them