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Stress and safety on the farm

By Sara Doerksen, Extension Agrologist Intern, Agriculture Knowledge Centre

March 2019

As the weather starts to get warmer, it won't be long before seeding is in full swing. With this increase in activity on the farm it is especially important to take care of the most valuable asset; yourself.

Whether you have been farming for many years, or are just starting out, there are many things that are unique about the agricultural industry. For the most part, this uniqueness is what makes agriculture such a great industry to work and live in. But, like operating any business, there is also considerable stress on the farm.

It's amazing how resilient producers in our province are, whether it be in response to unpredictable rainfall, sudden hailstorms, fluctuating crop prices, changes to regulations, propane shortages, or a variety of other factors that are generally out of their control. Even though these added stresses, especially during the busy seasons of seeding and harvest, seem to be a regular part of farming, it is always important to remember to take a step back.

We in agriculture must take care of ourselves and make sure that we are safe, both physically and mentally. This will not only enhance the efficiency of our operations, but more importantly it ensures we'll be around for the future of our families and our farms. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to help guarantee a safe growing season.

Some useful tips to keep in mind include:

  • Take an extra second – turning off machinery before making repairs or adjustments and remembering to replace guards and shields after repairs can save a limb or a life.
  • Stay alert – changing activities or taking a short walk periodically will help to stay focused on the job at hand.
  • Get regular sleep – ensuring regular sleeping habits will keep you more alert, allowing you to work more efficiently and safely.
  • Stay nourished – drinking plenty of water and eating healthy snacks throughout the day will help to nourish your body and help you stay productive.
  • Remember to communicate – communicating with family and friends keeps you connected during one of the busiest times of the year.
  • Reach out – talking with family, friends, or professionals about stressful situations will allow you to maintain a farm that is healthy and productive.

The Farm Stress Line is a free and confidential phone line available to farmers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Calls are handled by trained staff and can help by:

  • Clarifying the problem or concern and helping you work towards a solution.
  • Connecting you to the appropriate organization, professional or program that best suits your needs.
  • Listening and supporting in a safe, neutral and non-judgmental environment.

You can reach the Farm Stress Line at: 1-800-667-4442.

Whether it be taking a lunch break with family in the field, having a short phone call with a friend or reaching out to people when you feel overwhelmed, it is important to take care of our minds as well as our bodies. This is especially true during the busiest times of the year.

March 10-16, 2019, is Canadian Agriculture Safety Week! Tell us how you keep your farm safe throughout the growing season by using the hashtag #AgSafeCanada on social media.

For more information, here are some additional resources:

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