CONTACT: LYNN ROSE
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9585; fax(319) 335-8034
Release: May 11, 2000
I-CASH urges safety during the spring planting season
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Spring planting season is here and farmers are putting
in long hours to get crops planted. In order to have a safe and successful
planting season, specialists at Iowa's Center for Agricultural Safety and
Health (I-CASH) encourage farmers to be aware of safety issues related to
spring field work.
Before planting begins, farmers should make sure that their equipment is
running smoothly. Simple maintenance not only keeps equipment in good condition
and extends its working life, but also will prevent serious injuries to equipment
operators. Make sure that gauges, hoses and connectors are repaired or replaced.
Mark tractors and other equipment with Slow Moving Vehicle signs. Check tires
for proper pressure and good condition and ensure that all hydraulic connections
are in safe working condition.
Farmers who will apply anhydrous ammonia or other agricultural chemicals
to their crops should practice chemical safety measures and wear the proper
safety equipment, including ventless goggles, rubber gloves and a long-sleeved
shirt whenever handling ammonia or other agricultural chemicals. Practicing
safe handling and use of chemical fertilizers is important in preventing both
chronic and acute exposures.
"Chronic exposure to agricultural chemicals is actually more common
among farmers than acute exposures," explained LaMar Grafft, rural health
and safety specialist at I-CASH. "Flu-like symptoms result from chronic
exposures and farmers should be monitored for the health effects of these
Anhydrous ammonia is a hydroscopic compound that will cause severe burns
if it touches exposed skin or the eyes, or is inhaled into the lungs and respiratory
system. Injuries received in accidents with anhydrous ammonia are very serious
and can be disabling or fatal. Careful safety and injury prevention practices
used in handling the chemical can help ensure successful and safe application
to the fields and help maintain the health of the farmer over many planting
Environmental factors should also be considered as farmers move through
planting season. Dust affects farmers who are working on dry fields or windy
days. Tractors with enclosed cabs can improve this situation dramatically.
For farmers working without a tractor cab, a particulate respirator is a good
way to protect the lungs and nasal passages from dust.
The temperature is another environmental factor to be considered. On a very
hot or humid day, farmers working in the field should frequently stop for
water breaks and rest. Breaks and drinking water help farmers stay alert and
mindful of safety hazards as they work through the day.
Human factors such as stress and fatigue also play an important role in
planting season and safety practices. Stress can be managed by eating regularly,
talking to family members and getting regular sleep.
"During planting season, farmers should make sure that they are eating
regularly, taking adequate rest and water breaks, and getting off the tractor
to stretch and move around before returning to planting," said Grafft.
"Farmers should pay attention to their level of tiredness and get adequate
sleep, nutrition and rest to have a safe planting season."
For more information on planting and safety issues, call I-CASH at (319)-335-4438.
Iowa's Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH) is a consortium
including the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, the Iowa Department
of Public Health, and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
The consortium represents and helps maintain a statewide network of public
and private agricultural health and safety organizations. Located on the UI
Oakdale Research Campus, I-CASH's key objective is to reduce illness and injuries
among Iowa's agricultural population.