As fall approaches, many of our farmers are preparing for a long demanding harvest season. This includes our senior age farmers. For older farmers, a physically and mentally demanding harvest season can present a variety of health and safety issues, including a higher risk of injury due to diminished sensory systems. Many farmers may not be aware of changes in their sensory systems since they gradually diminish over time. Some common sensory areas that diminish over time include: Reaction time, Balance, Musculoskeletal system, Respiratory system, Hearing, and Vision. To reduce the risk of injury because of limited sensory systems follow these simple guidelines:
- Minimize machine or background noise.
- Get regular vision exams.
- Use sufficient lighting in darkness and reduce glare in extreme brightness.
- Avoid crossing between dim areas and brightly lit areas.
- Exercise caution when working in extreme hot or cold temperatures.
- Be alert and focus on the task at hand, because sense of touch can diminish with age
- Keep walking and working surfaces dry and free from obstacles or debris.
- Maintain 3 points of contact when mounting or dismounting equipment (1 hand / 2 feet)(2 hands / 1 foot)
- Anticipate changes in ground elevation or rough terrain.
- When increased efforts are needed, ask for help or use mechanical means.
- Organize work areas to avoid reaching above shoulder level or from an awkward position.
- Minimize repetitive tasks and avoid prolonged standing.
- Make an effort to minimize vibration when using tools or equipment.
- Be cautious of physically demanding activities that are not routinely performed.
- Set a pace and take breaks while performing work tasks over a long period of time.
- Use Personal Protective Equipment when appropriate (ear plugs, safety glasses, gloves, etc..).
For more information about the Ohio AgrAbility Program, please contact Kent McGuire, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at email@example.com or 614-292-0588.