07 October 2023, US: Despite the best safety precautions, farming leads to a significant number of accidents every year that can affect farmers’ health, well-being and agricultural productivity. It’s crucial to respond to these incidents swiftly and effectively to minimize injuries and prevent further damage.
Create a safer working environment by following these five critical steps to manage accidents and injuries.
How to Respond to an Injury on the Farm
1. Stay calm. Fear and anxiety are normal reactions after discovering a severely injured person, possibly a family member or coworker, but being mentally prepared, properly trained and staying calm will help overcome these emotions. Take a few deep breaths to slow your heart rate and regulate your breathing. Reducing stress levels will help you think clearly and make better decisions to determine the best next steps.
2. Ensure personal safety. Ensure that everyone, including yourself, is safe from immediate dangers. Your safety and that of those involved in the accident should be the top priorities.
3. Call 911. Notify emergency services immediately. (Make any additional calls for help after calling 911; emergency services should always be your first call.) Identify any hazardous chemicals or materials involved in the accident so emergency responders can determine the appropriate response. Clear communication ensures that help arrives quickly to take necessary actions.
Even if it’s only a minor injury, it’s a good idea to call for emergency help to err on the side of caution. In some cases, you can provide first aid on-site or transport injured parties to a nearby medical facility. If there is any doubt about the severity of the injuries, call 911 and ask the professionals what course of action they recommend.
4. Secure the area. Make the scene as secure as possible without putting yourself in harm’s way. Your actions at this stage can vary greatly depending on the nature of the injury, the equipment involved and the present hazards. Keep the hazards below in mind when planning your next steps.
- If electricity is involved, turn off the power source before approaching the victim.
- Avoid becoming trapped by equipment. Do not attempt to move an injured person, as this could cause further injury or risk the equipment injuring you.
- If it is safe, turn off and secure any machinery or equipment involved in the accident to prevent further injuries.
- Do not attempt a rescue in a manure pit, grain bin or silo by yourself.
- Wait until help arrives.
- Only personnel trained and medically approved to wear an air-supplying respirator should enter a confined space.
- Avoid touching any hazardous chemicals.
5. Provide first aid. Administer first aid to injured individuals if you have the necessary training, but remember to protect yourself by wearing the appropriate PPE. First aid can include primary wound care, CPR or other life-saving measures. Only move injured individuals if necessary, as unnecessary movement could exacerbate injuries. You may encounter some injury/illness types, including bites or stings, burns, head or spinal cord injuries, heat illness or pesticide/chemical overexposure.
Additional Pre-Emergency Planning Tips
The best way to handle the situation when someone is injured is to be prepared and ready to take action at any time. Here are some proactive best practices to follow:
- Pre-plan your route to the nearest emergency center and hospital.
- Know the ambulance and rescue vehicles for your local area and consider how they will respond.
- Several first aid and CPR courses are available through public service organizations and local groups that help you prepare for emergencies.
- Obtain and carry a First Aid and Pesticide First Aid Kit.
- Have fire extinguishers in high-risk areas and consider keeping one mounted in farm vehicles.
- Consider having exercises and drills to practice responding to different emergencies.
- For more information, consult OSHA’s Emergency Preparedness for Farmworkers document.
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