Nut Harvest Safety – Part 1
By Patrick Cavanaugh Farm News Director
Safety is very important, especially when working with heavy machinery. As most farm accidents and fatalities involve machinery, farm safety begins with educating and preparing workers for emergency situations, and making them aware of hazards. California Ag Today interviewed Paul Williams, a senior loss prevention consultant with the State Compensation Insurance Fund, regarding nut harvest safety.
“The hazards are primarily with walnuts and almonds. They tend to stir up more dust in the harvest process,” Williams said. “There are respiratory issues that employees need to be protected from.”
“There’s also a need for hearing protection with any type of farm equipment. A lot of times, you’re sitting there all day at elevated levels of noise – there’s potential for hearing loss. Hearing loss is often overlooked because it’s slow acting, but it can have a huge effect on workers lives down the road,” Williams explained. “It’s important to be aware of it as a factor, and we talking about it as one season, probably not going to be any noticeable … you do that for 20 and 30 seasons, and you’re not able to understand your grandchildren when they talk to you. It’s one of those things that sneaks up on you.”
Williams said there are also a lot of safety issues with farm equipment and transportation. “You’re driving a slow-moving vehicle down a county road at 10 miles an hour, and you’ve got impatient drivers who want to pass you. Many drivers are not paying attention at all and they rear-end your equipment,” Williams said. That happened in Kingsburg a couple weeks ago.
This is always a danger whenever you’re transporting harvesting equipment or any kind of farm equipment on a county road. “It’s always nice if you have a pilot car; it’s always nice if you have a truck behind with their flashers on, trying to control traffic and periodically being a good neighbor and pulling over and letting traffic get by you when that’s possible,” Williams said.
For more information on safety on the farm, go to: http://www.agsafe.org/