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• Another cause of limited joint movement in senior farmers is arthritis in the joints of the knees, hips, and fingers.


• Reduced capability to move any of these joints may limit a tractor operator’s ability to reach and manipulate controls.


• It also may reduce an operator’s ability to turn his or her head or neck far enough to monitor pulled machinery or check for traffic on the highway before making a turn or changing lanes. • Reduced muscle strength often compounds joint impairments like arthritis, rheumatism, bursitis, and frozen shoulder.


• Any one of these impairments, or a combination of them, may significantly increase the risk of injury to senior farmers by decreasing and delaying their responses to hazardous situations.


Safety and Health Suggestions


Generally speaking, reducing or controlling injury risks and hazards is not any different for senior farmers than for any other age group of farmers. It is better to make physical changes to the working environment to completely remove or lessen exposure to hazards than to rely upon an individual’s behavior around the hazard:


• Increase lighting levels in barns and other buildings to accommodate the vision needs of older farmers. • Ensure that all steps, stairs, and handrails are of excellent quality and well lighted with switches at both ends of stairs and by all entrances • Put non-slip surfaces on walkways and steps where possible.


• Have easily operated or maneuvered fence gates, building doors, and animal handling devices.


• Use properly fitted and easily accessible personal protection devices. With the large percentage of tractor- related fatalities. It is imperative that senior farmers pay special attention to their ability to operate a tractor safely. To reduce tractor operation risks, farmers might:


• Consider trading in older, less safe tractors for newer, safer models. • Retro-fit older tractors, when possible, with ROPS and a seat belt • Ensure that all tractor lights, brakes, shields, tires, etc., are in place, functional, and well maintained • Refrain from carrying passengers;


British Columbia Berry Grower • Summer 2015 21


consider limiting tractor operation to daylight hours and roads with little vehicular traffic.


• The safest tractor for senior farmers is a newer tractor with an enclosed cab and ROPS.


• Be aware of over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications that may reduce alertness, decrease the sense of balance, or interfere in some other way with expected work tasks.


• Get adequate rest, eat nutritiously and wear proper work clothes and


footwear.


• Take work breaks and always stop when you are tired.


• Know the symptoms of heart attack and stroke.


• Get regular medical check-ups (at least once a year) for vision, hearing, balance, and muscular range and mobility.


• Consult with a family physician


about how physical limitations may affect safety and health at work. — Farm Safety Association Inc.


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