March 11 to 17 marks Canadian Agricultural Safety Week (CASW), an annual public awareness campaign focusing on the importance of safe agriculture.
This year, organizers are focusing on supporting senior farmers and safe aging on the farm.
“Senior farmers are vital to Canadian agriculture. Older farmers offer wisdom, knowledge and experience. But older farmers are also at risk for injury,” said the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association in a news release.
Currently there are more farmers over age 70 than under 35 in Canada. Many farmers continue to work into their 70s and 80s.
“With aging, there is a natural decline in some of our motor skills and other functions that change how one must manage their health. This is an inevitability for all humans,” said Keith Castonguay, director of the Manitoba Farm Safety Program. “Eating properly, following instructions for medication use, asking for help when needed, and recharging through rest are simple personal risk management practices that can help reduce farm accidents.”
Due to natural changes that come with age, farming past the average retirement age has lead to a trend in farm accidents involving seniors. Canadian Agricultural Injuring Reporting statistics show that farmers over the age of 60 have a higher than average fatality rate and farmers 80 years of age and older have the highest fatality rate than any other age group.
The Manitoba Farm Safety Program offers the following modifications and precautions for seniors working on farms:
▪Increase light in low visibility areas and complete tasks during ample daylight
▪Be aware of which prescription drugs slow reaction times and cause fatigue
•Work with others or, if this is not possible, arrange more frequent check-ins
•Increase frequency of contact using a cell phone or radio
•Allow any injuries time to fully heal and ensure ample rest
▪Assess abilities and limitations on a regular basis.