Bringing light to farm safety
By Kristen Burkhardt, Animal Nutrition Marketing Intern & Jillian Green, Dairy Focus Consultant
Machine operators, animal handling, and manure storing are some areas that might come to mind when you think of farm safety. As we enter the summer months, we can’t forget about incorporating sun protection into our farm safety protocols.
Farmer tan competitions are something we might all participate in throughout the summer. (I know growing up with a bunch of cousins around the farm we had daily comparisons.) All jokes aside, something we tend to lose track of is ensuring that we are protecting ourselves from the sun while diligently working around the farm all day – outside. Believe it or not, sun protection plays a huge role in farm safety.
The Skin Care Foundation reports that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. One of the largest contributors to skin cancer is exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Dairy farmers are outside most of the day and have an increased risk of skin cancer because of this. It is important to bring light to this problem and figure out a plan for you, your family, and your employees.
According to Jillian Green, Cargill safety advocate and Dairy Focus Consultant, these are some realistic ways to protect yourself from the sun.
Sunscreen – This is one that we all think about when it comes to sun protection, but do you actually use sunscreen? Take five minutes to apply a handful of sunscreen to all areas of skin that could be exposed. It is recommended to at least apply 15 SPF or greater. This is something you can always have in your truck, tractor, farm office, or lunch box to keep cold!
Shade – Whenever you can do something in the shade – do it! We invest in infrastructure to provide shade for our cows, plan to do that for yourself throughout your workday.
Wide-brimmed hat – I don’t know about you, but my nose is the sun’s best friend. If I don’t have a hat on, my nose is surely going to look like Rudolph by the end of the day. Protect your face and your ears by wearing a wide-brimmed hat around the farm.
Wearing protective clothing – Wearing a long-sleeved shirt or long pants is the last thing you want to wear when it is 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside. But this is one of the best ways from keeping the UV rays from reaching your skin. In addition, wearing proper eye protection that has UV protection or is polarized is a great idea too.
Jillian mentions that sun safety is something that is not talked about nearly enough.
“It is easy to sift itself to the bottom of the priority list, but people have to remember that our skin is our largest organ, so we have to make it a top priority. Farm owners should treat sun safety like safety vests.” She continues, “If we want our employees to stay safe, it is essential to provide sunscreen or preventative materials, trainings, or creating a protocol to ensure everyone on the farm is protecting themselves from the sun.”
It doesn’t take long to find someone who has had skin cancer of some sort. Although sun protection goes unnoticed at times, let’s bring light to this farm safety issue and protect our skin this summer. Ensure that your employees have the resources to protect themselves as well. As Jillian suggests, treat sunscreen like a safety vest!