In 2008, the Federal Center for Disease Control calculated the rate of non-fatal injuries and illnesses for the combined Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industries at 4.9 per 100 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) while all other industries averaged 3.8 per 100 FTEs. This higher rate is historically typical for these industry categories. Work-related fatalities were also higher for this group.
Agriculture is and will likely remain a hazardous business. The constant involvement with heavy equipment, the long hours, and potential for exposure to toxic substances or dangerous situations can make agricultural employment a daily hazard. Farm operators, managers and even employees need to have the necessary skills and tools available to prevent or address potential work injuries. This article will focus on building readiness for addressing on-farm injuries, but it remains in the interest of everyone involved in agriculture to develop an on-farm safety culture as a first defense.
Because accidental injuries and other health emergencies can occur at any time, every farm operation should be prepared with first-aid and emergency kits. As a practical matter, first aid and emergency kits are different and there should be more than one type of kit available on the farm. For example, the “First Aid” kit available in the home or office for everyday cuts and scrapes would be different from the “Emergency“ kit in the pickup or harvester operating out of reach, away from the farmstead during the work day. Also, emergency kits will have different supplies than the first-aid kit used to supply small bandages for small cuts or to remove slivers.
A typical emergency kit that is placed in a tractor or other equipment used away from the farmstead might include:
- Cell phone (prepaid or employee’s personal)
- A basic first-aid manual
- 2 triangular bandages with 36" sides (made from bed sheets)
- Antiseptic spray (not in pressurized can) to disinfect contaminated wounds
- Sterile saline solution
- Twelve adhesive bandages and four safety pins
- Two pairs of rubber or latex gloves
- Eye goggles
- 3 small packages of sugar
- Face shield for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
- 12 large adhesive bandages for small cuts, puncture wounds, abrasions
- 4 safety pins to anchor triangular bandages
- 4 sterile compress bandages (2 X 2 inches) to dress wounds, control bleeding
- 4 sterile compress bandages (4 X 4 inches) to dress wounds, control bleeding
- Roll of tape (2-inch width) to anchor dressing
- 6 pressure bandages (8 X 10 inches) to control bleeding, splint fracture
- Scissors to cut clothing or bandages
- 2 rolls of elastic wrap to anchor dressings (use care not to stretch too tightly)
- 5 clean plastic bags (one garbage, 2 kitchen, 2 bread-sized) to transport amputated tissue