Personally, I think fatigue is the underlying cause of a high percentage of farm accidents.
At the height of seeding and harvest, you’re on such a mission to ‘get it done’, you don’t always consciously notice you are fatigued.
It affects your decision making ability, your clarity, your motor function and you might not even know it.
I’m always guided by the Centre for Ag Health & Safety and their research:
*** If you answer “YES” to any of these, then you shouldn’t be working***
- I had less than 6 hours sleep in the past 24 hours?
- I had less than 12 hours sleep in the past 48 hours?
- I will have been awake for 16 hours or more when I finish this shift?
- I have 3+ of the following signs of fatigue?
• Rubbing or closing eyes
• Struggling to stay awake
• No energy or motivation
• Poor short term memory
• Near misses
• Can’t concentrate on task
• Reduced co-ordination
• Nodding off or Microsleeps
- Set some sensible rules and routines for yourself and your workers
- Discuss these rules with workers at induction and prior to each busy seasonal period
- Use the self assessment tool, print it out, laminate and stick up in the shed as a reminder to everyone
- Make arrangements that allow workers to gain necessary rest, be that their own house or a comfortable room
- Avoid work during the hours of 2am and 6am as this is when natural alertness is at its lowest
- If you can’t avoid those hours due to seasonal or weather constraints, then make sure the person working them is well rested and experienced at the job
- Consider any breakdowns during these odd hours also, workers shouldn’t be undertaking complex repairs
More specific assistance is available to my members and clients.