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Summer series on agricultural safety


There’s nothing quite like an Australian summer. The car steering wheel feeling like the centre of the earth’s crust, the sounds of Bill Lawry’s voice breaking during the long days of test match cricket and the extreme UV radiation from 40 °C days.

This was reflected at last month’s Australian Open Grand Slam Tennis tournament, where Melbourne Park’s court temperatures hit 69°C.

During Australia’s summer those working in agriculture are five to 10 times more likely to be at risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma than industries that work predominately indoors.

In this series on agricultural safety, we have put together five safety tips for farmers during the Australian summer.

Warth Cluster

1. Fatigue

When operations are in full swing farmers work very long hours. Coupled with the urgency around keeping stock in the yard for the shortest time possible, fatigue becomes one of the biggest dangers for farmers. Due to the extreme heat and humidity in certain parts of Australia, it’s important not to take on too much work at one time. Plan activities in the cooler part of the day and try and manage your livestock workload so you have stock turnaround in less than 24 hours. Be organised and have the resources at hand.

2. Water and shade for livestock

According to Future Beef Australia the hot summer temperatures will significantly influence the daily water intake that livestock require. “A rise from 25ºC to 35ºC can almost double daily water consumption, particularly if there is high humidity. For example, at 25ºC dry cows may drink 40 litres, but this will increase to 70 litres at 32ºC, and higher during very hot conditions. Lactating cows may have a 30% higher daily water intake than dry cows,” a spokesperson from Future Beef Australia said. It’s important to consider shade for feedlots to maintain the quality and value of the cattle. Talk to your Metalcorp account manager about our shade cloth solutions.

3. Perform equipment checks

Before heading out to work perform equipment checks. This could be chainsaws, generators, welders, motorbikes etc. Finding a problem before you need to use the equipment is always the best way to approach anything, better than suffering an injury due to equipment failure.

4. Use mechanical aids when possible

Living on a farm often means you are working by yourself or in small teams. If there are 400 steel pickets to load in the ute there is a fair chance you will be hand loading them 10 at a time. Use the tractor or hydraulic hoist on the vehicle if you have these available. Another good idea is to store heavy items in racks that makes unloading and loading easier – saves lifting.

5. Take all measures to minimise heat illness

During Australia’s summer, it’s simply not enough to “slip, slop and slap” and work through conditions which can cause serious yet preventable injuries. Drink at least 200 millilitres (a cup) of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Take extra rest breaks in cool shaded areas and arrange for more workers to help where possible.

Metalcorp would like to wish all our customers a prosperous 2018. Please be safe and enjoy the sunshine.

Metalcorp is dedicated to maintaining the highest safety standards for our personnel, customers and livestock.