This year, safety in all forms has been on the forefront for Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation members. Between the normal precautions Mississippi farmers and ranchers are constantly taking to keep themselves and their employees safe during planting and harvest to the new safety measures the world has implemented due to COVID-19, 2020 has been one for the record books in terms of safety.
Since safety is on the top of all of our minds, I thought I would run through some important farm safety reminders in this issue of “Notes From the Field.”
Slow Down on Roadways
Mississippi farmers and ranchers are in full swing moving equipment from one field to another for harvest. If you are driving a piece of farm equipment on public roadways, make sure your hazard lights are on and that your Slow Moving Vehicle emblems are clearly displayed. If you a driving a vehicle on public roadways, slow down when you approach farm equipment and stay on high alert when passing. We do not need to get in a hurry while on roadways because a split-second decision could affect the rest of our lives.
Check Farm Equipment Prior to Use
Always check your equipment before use. A walk around your equipment should include looking for leaks of any kind, like any busted hydraulic hoses. If you find a leak or repair, make sure it is fixed before using the equipment. Make sure your equipment has PTO shields and covers to protect yourself. These shields and covers are not there to get in our way, but instead to keep us from getting hurt.
Wear Personal Protective Equipment
If you are working on the farm, make sure you are wearing the proper personal protective equipment needed for the job. Safety glasses, gloves and hearing protection are just a few common pieces of personal protective equipment we could all get in a better habit of wearing. Just because you have never had an accident, like a foreign object thrown in your eye or a busted eardrum, does not mean it cannot happen. After all, it only takes something happening once for your life to change.
Be Alert of Mental Health Changes
Mental health is a sensitive topic, but one that must be addressed. As farmers work countless hours trying to beat the rain and race the sun, they are faced with many problems they have no control over, like fluctuating commodity prices and flooding. The unpredictable issues can cause stress and anxiety, which could lead to mental health changes. Sometimes, all someone needs is to talk to a friend or family member, but other times, someone may need to talk to a professional. Be attentive of the following mental health warning signs.
Mental Health Warning Signs
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs”
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
I encourage everyone to practice these safety tips as we conclude 2020. For more safety resources, visit msfb.org/safety.
About the Author: Benton Moseley is a Safety Specialist at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.