Silage Season Safety - Pre-Season Preparation

Photo from Flickr - credits below
It's impossible to thoroughly cover all critical safety information in a short period of time.  Be sure to always seek out OTHER critical information and resources on harvest season and silage/silo related safety.

Pre-Season Prep
  • Farms can be dangerous and unforgiving places. Late summer and fall are high-risk times.
  • In Wisconsin, we often have very tight time windows to get things harvested and put into storage to make it through the year. It’s that urgency and time pressure that can contribute to distraction and mistakes that lead to injuries or even death.
  • Machinery often plays a major role in serious farm injuries.
  • Shortcuts and mistakes can be deadly – PTO or other power unit entanglements; getting wrapped up in a self-unloading forage wagon; or, rolling a tractor on a bunker or pile often happen. 
Think Like a Pilot - Or, a NASCAR Driver
  • The best way to prevent tragedies is to invest prep time to get equipment ready for the coming season. Adjustments required improve safety often also help maximize the quality and value of your crop.
  • Think of your role in the same way an airplane pilot or race car driver would.  That means you need to establish a comparable pre-flight or NASCAR-style pre-race checklist -- a run-through and shakedown to make sure all systems are "go.” Consult your operators' manuals.
  • Are shields in place – on tractors, choppers, blowers, wagons, augers, your combine, etc?
  • Replace questionable hydraulic hoses. Also carefully check bearings and belts and plan for replacements ahead of time rather than waiting for something to break or "go out" at an inopportune time.  Many  terrible farm injuries happen when a breakdown happens. People get super-stressed and frustrated and then do something they know they should not do...
  • If you’re spending time on the road with farm equipment, SMV emblems, flashers, lighting and reflectors must be fully operational, clearly visible, and compliant with all state and local laws.  Be aware of and comply with various weight, width and other roadway restrictions and laws.
Train, Coach, & Create Expectations with Your Employees
  • Many of our farms have hired workers who help during harvest – As an employer, spend time with workers even if they are family members, temporary, or part-time. Talk about your safety expectations. Operators’ manuals are a great source of information. The same is true if you’re hiring custom harvest work.  You need to create and expect a culture of safety.  ALSO -- Create an expectation that you will be open to listening and solving problems if a worker discovers something unsafe while they are working.
  • With everybody involved in the operation, demonstrate and walk through safety procedures and show people exactly what to do if something unexpected happens.  
  • Make sure everyone involved in the operation has a way to communicate at all times. But realize that if it's a smartphone, steps need to be taken to make sure people are not texting or talking while driving/operating.
  • It’s impossible to cover everything, so it’s critical to learn as much about safety as possible and adapt these and other recommendations to fit YOUR operation.  
This post was originally developed to support a series of corn silage harvest-related podcasts that will be posted by colleague Liz Binversie of Brown County, UW-Extension. This one connects to podcast #2 which covers Equipment Settings and Safety

Photo Credits (with expressed, written permission) 
Silage packing pictures -- Creative Commons -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/thejesse/
Link to license- https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/


Silage Season Safety - Processing & Packing

Photo from Flickr - See credits below
It's impossible to thoroughly cover all critical safety information in a short period of time.  Be sure to always seek out OTHER critical information and resources on harvest season and silage/silo related safety 

When you’re processing and putting up silage in any type of structure, it’s a complicated job, and potentially dangerous.  

Silo Gas
  • Let’s talk silo gas for a minute – also known as nitrogen dioxide.  It’s a normal part of the silage making process.  We start to see this gas a few hours to a day or so after a silo is filled – And then it’s produced for about 2-2.5 weeks
    Silo gas is created in ANY type of silage storage
    system, but is a particular problem in tower silos.
    depending on conditions – Silo gas is produced
    in ALL kinds of silos – tower silos, bunkers, piles, bags – the biggest issue however, is when it’s a confined space.  This could be in a tower silo, an adjoining room, the chute or in the space between silo bags.
  • In the air, nitrogen dioxide has a faint yellowish color though in low light conditions, you probably won’t see it…It smells a bit like bleach.  It is very irritating -- even a few breaths can cause serious health problems.
  • Avoid silo gas, especially during that initial three-week post-harvest window. Treat a tower silo and areas surrounding stored silage as a confined space.  Ventilate thoroughly – generally with the blower.  Get more information – entering any confined space incorrectly has deadly consequences.
Bunker Silo Rollovers & Other Issues
  • There are special hazards with packing a bunker silo.  Some great detailed information can be found in this piece from Penn State on horizontal silo safety.
  • Tractor rollovers occur every season while people are packing bunkers and piles – It’s critical that you select the right tractor – it MUST have a ROPS (rollover protective structure) and a seatbelt.
  • A wide front-end is also an absolute must. Front-wheel and front wheel-assist tractors provide extra traction and stability for packing. Duals usually increase stability as well as appropriately-placed weights.
  • Backing a tractor up ANY slope is preferred – you achieve better stability AND CONTROL.  
  • On a slope – as you fill a bunker, make sure your packed, wedge-shaped surfaces are not too steep – We generally talk about a safe slope being 3 to 1 or something even less steep. On a pile or bunker that’s 20 feet high, you need a wedged surface do drive up that’s at least 60 feet long in the horizontal direction.  Anything less, and you run a great chance of rolling a tractor.
  • There are many other precautions to take with your employees and family members who are working at this time…Like these:
    • Only experienced people should be permitted to operate equipment.
    • Require all equipment operators to remain in their vehicles to avoid being run over.
    • Keep visitors and children out of ANY farm work zone.  A packing operation seems cool and fun to watch - but operators have a lot to pay attention to, and the chaos associated with visitors and bystanders can be very distracting.
    • Have workers wear brightly colored safety vests or t-shirts to increase visibility.
This post was originally developed to support a series of silage harvest-related podcasts posted by colleague Liz Binversie of Brown County, UW-Extension.  This one is written to connect to the podcast covering processing and packing.


Photo Credits:
Silage packing pictures -- Creative Commons -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/thejesse/
Link to license - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Silo gas photo from personal collection.



Silage Season Safety - General Safety Info

Silage Defacer - Involved in New York Death, 2005.
Photo from NIOSH-CDC
It's impossible to cover all critical safety information in a short period of time. Be sure to always seek out OTHER critical information and resources on harvest season and silage/silo related safety.  Also note that feeding and unloading from silo is an activity that happens through much of the year, so these are some potential hazards you can be exposed to year-round…

Dust & Farmer's Lung
  • Silage is often not very dusty, but when it is, it's usually because of poor storage or initial harvest conditions. We are most concerned when dusty silage, haylage, or stored hay that has gotten moldy and has easily released mold "spores" which create dusty conditions.
  • Depending on a person’s health status, mold spores in dust can cause severe health effects. For some people, dust and mold spore exposure can cause an illness referred to as farmer’s lung or one called silo-unloaders syndrome.  Farmer’s lung is especially a risk for people who have had allergies, asthma or other sensitivities.  
    N95 Respirator Infographic from CDC-NIOSH
  • People prone to farmer’s lung should avoid these exposures.  If you’re concerned, check with your family doctor or other health care professional.
  • If you are working around many types of dust on a farm, a tight fitting dust mask can be helpful – We often talk about an approved and certified “N-95” mask. Make sure any mask fits well.  Make sure all workers are in good health before they use a respirator.  Safety and health standards actually require a doctor's "okay" before a person uses a workplace respirator because of the additional stress it places on the lungs and heart.  It's impossible to use a dust mask and get a proper seal if the person who wears it has a beard or other facial hair. We strongly recommend that any respirator be used within the framework of a carefully-designed respiratory protection policy and program.
Machines & Equipment Used for Feeding
  • On bunker silos – feeding can present special hazards – Big equipment is one – like loaders, tractors, trucks.  It can be a busy, confusing and unsafe place.  Employees need thorough training, and visitors and kids must be kept well away from the "feedout" area.
  • Silage 'defacing' equipment is another hazard.  There was a high profile death about 12 years ago.  It involved a young man, 18-years old.  He started his early morning on a modest, family-run dairy farm.  Safety had been emphasized over and over on this operation. 
    Silage Defacer - Involved in New York Death, 2005.
    Photo from NIOSH-CDC
  • It was cold. The man started the tractor and raised the defacer about four-feet off the ground.  We’re not sure why, but he engaged the defacer with the hydraulic lever and climbed off the tractor with everything running.  Nobody knows exactly what happened, but he walked around the right-hand front of the tractor and his jacket got caught on the rotating outer edge of the defacer.  It snagged him badly enough that he began to rotate with the spinning unit.
  • His uncle heard this happening.  He saw the situation. He shut off the tractor. He cut the victim's clothing loose and called for help.  While he waited for the ambulance, he tried to give CPR – By the time the sheriff arrived, the victim was dead.
  • These kinds of seemingly strange things seem to happen on farms someplace around the country almost on a daily basis – and in Wisconsin, we see frequent deaths and serious injury from being wrapped up in machinery.  Do NOT get off a machine with parts moving.  It’s just too risky.
Avalanche & Collapse Hazards
  • Another feedout safety concern is overhangs in bunkers and piles.  Undercut silage ledges can avalanche and trap a person under several thousand pounds of silage. Even a perfectly flat feedout face of a bunker or pile that appears stable can collapse, leaving a person buried underneath.
  • The key point is to stay back from the front face of a bunker or pile at a distance of at least three times the height of the front face to avoid being engulfed by an avalanche  -- So – if you’re looking at a front face that’s 15 or 20 feet high, you need to keep a distance of 45 or 60 feet….
  • When silage "samples" need to being collected, scoop up some silage in a loader, drive the loader away from the avalanche zone, and then take your sample from the bucket.
  • Loaders can be equipped with heavy duty bars or mesh to protect the operator if a pile collapses onto the machine.
  • Again, the farm is a potentially dangerous, industrial workplace – We’ve provided you with only some of the basics.  There’s always more to learn.  Don’t make assumptions.  ALL who work on your operation need this understanding and need the knowledge and tools to do their work safely!   
This post was originally developed to support a series of corn silage harvest-related podcasts that will be posted by colleague Liz Binversie of Brown County, UW-Extension.

Respiratory Health with Dusty & Moldy Grain

Respiratory Health with Dusty & Moldy Grain
By: John Shutske, Damon Smith, Steve Kirkhorn, and Paul Esker
(Author affiliations at end of article)

If you produce corn, soybeans, or other crops in the Midwest, being exposed to dust while you are working is inevitable. Breathing grain dust can affect the health and overall comfort for grain producers and others who work in the grain industry. Exposures can occur:

  • In the combine
  • While unloading
  • During drying and processing
  • In bins
  • While grinding/mixing grain and other feed products (including hay and silage)
Grain dust is a complex soup made up of both organic and inorganic particles. Some particles can be inhaled easily, and depending on their size, dust can find its way deep into the respiratory system and cause a range of negative health effects. Smaller particles are generally more harmful because they can find their way more deeply into the lungs. Grain dust is biologically active, and is made up of:

  • Plant material
  • Mold and mold spores
  • Insect parts and excreta
  • Bacteria
  • Endotoxins (toxins contained in the cell walls of some bacteria)
  • Soil

Exposure to Small Concentrations During Normal Work

Most people will have some reaction to dusty conditions during harvest. Often, this will be a nuisance reaction (like a runny nose) or irritation, but in some cases, bigger health problems are possible. Even in the cab of a combine, there is some dust (1 to 15 mg of dust per cubic meter). Also endotoxins (even with a sealed cab and proper air filtration) can reach limits that cause symptoms for some individuals. At low dust levels that a healthy person might routinely encounter during harvest operations, developing a cough is common. This might be an intermittent cough, often producing more phlegm when actual work is happening around dust. Other common symptoms are:

  • Chest tightness and/or wheezing
  • Sore/irritated throat
  • Nasal and eye irritation
  • Feeling of being stuffed-up and congested

Chronic or acute bronchitis is common for those who handle grain as the main lung passages get inflamed. Grain dust can also be a significant and limiting problem for those with asthma.

Exposure to Higher Concentrations of Grain Dust

Higher concentrations of dust exposure like you might encounter close to a combine in operation, in a bin, or while unloading or processing grain are a concern especially in years where there are higher levels of mold present or when you have lower quality grain that might be more dusty and prone to damage.  

Moldy, damaged, dusty grain can cause significant health issues for people. For many individuals, a heavy dose of dust even for a short time period can lead to symptoms that occur a few (2 to 6) hours after exposure and may noticeable after they’ve gone home at night. These symptoms from a heavy dose of grain dust exposure can include:

  • Cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Malaise-general feeling of discomfort, illness, or feeling “ill-at-ease”
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever

Why People React This Way to a “Massive” Exposure to Moldy Grain

Most people who have worked around grain will occasionally find themselves in the midst of a space that is obviously very dusty. This “massive” exposure to a cloud of dust for several minutes or hours is something that should be avoided. Though, total avoidance might not always be possible or practical. A massive exposure to moldy, dusty grain even for a short period of time can result in two distinct medical conditions. These conditions are also common when exposed to dusty or moldy hay and silage. The two common conditions look VERY similar and have the same cluster of symptoms outlined above (cough, chest tightness, etc.) but they are actually quite medically different. These two conditions are “Farmer’s Lung” or Farmer’s Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (FHP) and Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS).

“Farmer’s Lung” or Farmer’s Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (FHP) is relatively less common and generally affects about 1 in 20 exposed individuals. Many times farmers tell their health provider about their symptoms and the reaction sometimes gets mislabeled as FHP. However, FHP is a delayed allergic reaction caused when highly sensitive people breathe in grain dusts causing their bodies to produce “antibodies” as a reaction to the dust. Since FHP is an allergic reaction and involves the body’s immune system, repeated exposures and bouts with FHP often get worse with each exposure. Some individuals may become physically unable to work in dusty areas and can develop permanent lung damage through repeated exposures.

Farmer’s Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis is most often brought on or made worse by dust that contains mold, mold spores, and bacteria that had developed under warm/hot storage conditions. These heat-loving organisms are actually more likely to grow in stored hay or sometimes in the top layers of stored silage as compared to grain that was standing out in the field, though exposures that lead to FHP can occur from grain including stored grain. If you’ve been diagnosed with FHP before, and get sick in the future while working around grain (or hay/silage), it is a good idea to see your family doctor.

“Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome” or ODTS, as the name suggests, is a toxic reaction as compared to the allergic reaction that causes FHP. The respiratory system can get inflamed from the dust, molds, bacteria, and endotoxins in grain dust. With ODTS, people develop a set of symptoms that look very similar to FHP even though the actual reaction by the body that causes the symptoms is quite different. People who develop ODTS will usually recover in a few days. Permanent lung damage from ODTS is not likely to occur with a single exposure, but the person might feel fairly sick (fever, fatigue, cough, chest tightness, etc.) for a few days after exposure. Again, your family doctor or other health professional should be consulted if you develop this type of reaction. It is possible that repeated occurrences of ODTS can lead to FHP and other allergic reactions in some people, so prevention is important.

A difficult problem is that since Farmer’s Lung (FHP) and Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome (ODTS) have such similar symptoms, it is hard even for health professionals to recognize and know the difference. Additional medical testing will be needed to tell the two apart. Medical treatment is also different. References cited at the end of this article might be helpful for your physician if you visit your doctor’s office with serious problems that you think might be connected to harvesting or handling dusty and moldy grain. 

Another concern in the late fall is that respiratory symptoms that result from grain dust exposure can look much like seasonal influenza. If you’ve been working in dusty conditions and end up with a “flu-like illness,” make sure you let your healthcare provider know you’ve had significant dust exposures. Influenza is a viral illness and is treated in a different manner from either FHP or ODTS.

Controlling Exposure Risks

Grain dust exposure and the associated problems and health symptoms are complex. Here are some specific things you can do to control your risk:

  • Have the correct and clean air filter in place when operating a grain combine. Use the appropriate setting on the blower in the cab whether you are using the heater or the A/C. This will minimize dust concentrations in the cab by creating slight pressure inside the operator’s station. When replacing cab air filters, make sure gaskets are intact and installed correctly and that the air is being well-filtered.
  • Avoid direct exposures to dust whenever possible, regardless of your sensitivity. Stay in the cab with the door closed when unloading. If you’re outside unloading or moving grain in other ways, use the wind to your advantage rather that standing directly in a cloud of dust any time grain is being moved.
  • Properly adjust your combine to minimize grain damage. This will help to also minimize the amount of dust being generated. Properly harvested grain will also store better and for longer periods of time with fewer mold and insect issues.
  • Wear a NIOSH-approved and certified “N-95” dust mask (respirator) that fits your face properly. This is especially critical if you find yourself working in a very dusty situation that cannot be avoided. CAUTION: Wear a respirator only if you are free of health problems, particularly with your heart and lungs. Respirators are only effective if you are cleanly shaven. Local health professionals can be a great source of information and can recommend the type of respirator that can be safely worn if a person has any underlying medical conditions including cardiac and respiratory conditions.  If you have a beard or need extra protection, a powered air purifying respirator (PAPR) also commonly known as an “air helmet” can be used in these situations. If you work in a facility where worker safety regulations for respiratory protection apply (such as a grain elevator or feed mill), there are other mandated regulatory requirements before a dust mask or other type of respirator can be worn by workers.
  • Avoid dust exposure if you have any chronic respiratory health issues, including asthma, previous experience with Farmer’s Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, or existing respiratory infections or conditions. Individuals who have these conditions should be alert for symptoms, even when working in a relatively clean environment like the cab of a combine, and should minimize their exposure to dust.
  • If you feel sick, call your health care provider. If you find yourself working in a very dusty situation (like loading or cleaning out a bin or getting a heavy, prolonged exposure near a combine in the field) and end up feeling sick a few hours later, call for medical advice. Again, your problem may be a condition like ODTS or FHP, but you may also have seasonal influenza or another illness.
  • Smoking tends to make any type of symptoms or reaction caused by dust exposure much worse. Realize that smoking increases the risk of developing respiratory diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Authors:

John Shutske, PhD and Damon Smith, PhD,  UW-Extension, Cooperative Extension and UW-Madison, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Paul Esker, PhD, University of Costa Rica, San José, Science Education, Mathematics Education, Plant Protection and Animal Health.

Steve Kirkhorn, MD, Former Medical Director, National Farm Medicine Center – Marshfield Clinic

References:

  1. Kirkhorn SR. Agricultural Respiratory Health in Critical Need. Partners in Agricultural Health. Wisconsin Office of Rural Health. Available at: http://worh.org/files/AgHealth/resp.pdf
  2. Donham, K. J., & Thelin, A. (2006). Agricultural medicine: occupational and environmental health for the health professions. Wiley-Blackwell. (Chapter 3 contains information that can help a health professional differentiate between Farmer’s Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis and ODTS).
  3. Girard, M., Lacasse, Y., & Cormier, Y. (2009). Hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Allergy, 64(3), 322-334.
  4. Kirkhorn, S. R., & Garry, V. F. (2000). Agricultural lung diseases. Environmental health perspectives, 108(Suppl 4), 705.
  5. Seifert, S. A., Essen, S. V., Jacobitz, K., Crouch, R., & Lintner, C. P. (2003). Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome: A Review: REVIEW. Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology, 41(2), 185-193.


Farm Stress & Decision Making During Challenging Times

Farm Stress & Decision Making During Challenging Times
John Shutske, Extension Specialist
University of Wisconsin Madison &
UW Extension Cooperative Extension

What Causes Stress for Farmers and Farm Families?

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? 

     I haven’t started the paperwork for that major loan due next week!
     Who knows whether the big tractor will make it through another full chopping season?
     Should I go back to school with so much economic uncertainty?
     How will I ever find time to learn more about precision farming?
     What will happen to commodity prices after all this political turmoil?
     My spouse and I just cannot talk about things the way we used to.
     I haven't had a moment to myself since we added all that custom work to make our business plan feasible.
     There's a missed call on my smartphoneOne of our employees is hurt! 

Farmers face many stressors.
Photo credit: John W Hancock/Shutterstock.com
The list could continue endlessly for most people who work in agriculture. Farming is one of the most stressful occupations in the U.S. The following are some of the common stressors we encounter:

     Financial pressures
     Debt load
     Dependence on unpredictable weather and volatile markets
     Extreme outdoor work conditions
     Fatigue
     Lack of personal time
     Little time to talk through difficult problems
     Inter-generational differences and views of work, business philosophy, and the future
     Excessive workloads, which hinder our ability to cultivate valuable relationships
     Health, pain, disability, or mobility issues connected to years of physical labor 

Stress is a double-edged sword. A little stress can serve as a constructive motivator, galvanizing us to action. Too much stress, on the other hand, can damage our health, compromise safety, and sabotage personal relationships. It diminishes our capacity for considering and evaluating alternative solutions to complex problems, and this can limit our power to make sound decisions. Stress often manifests itself through vicious cycles with escalating consequences that can paralyze a person or family.

With the arduous and sometimes volatile conditions we see in agriculture, the risks of too much stress are alarming.  Material here comes from three decades of working and spending time with farmers, agricultural service providers, community leaders, lenders, clergy, health professionals, educators, and others in the ag industry to compile answers to these questions:

1. What causes stress in the lives of farmers, their family members, workers, and those closely connected?
2. How do successful individuals and families in agriculture cope with stress?
3. How can I help myself or others when there is too much stress?

National Farm Safety & Health Week - 2016

Presidential Proclamation -- National Farm Safety and Health Week, 2016

NATIONAL FARM SAFETY AND HEALTH WEEK, 2016
- - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
For generations, farmers and ranchers have formed the backbone of our economy and shaped the course of our Nation. They have served as critical stewards of our environment and natural resources. Toiling day in and day out in rural communities across our country, their dedication and dogged work ethic provide us with food, fuel, and other necessities, sustaining our people and our communities. Throughout National Farm Safety and Health Week, we honor their significant contributions

Financial Worries Connected to Sleep Loss & Possible Injury Risk

From the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan, data suggests that cash-flow and other financial worries can lead to loss of sleep during critical "busy" seasons.

The abstract says: "Farm work involves seasonal peak busy periods with long hours of work and potential sleep loss. ...During peak agricultural seasons, 31.6% of owners/operators reported less than 6 hours of sleep per night compared to 6.3% during the non-peak seasons (p< .01). A significant relationship (odds ratio [OR] 3.59, confidence interval [Cl] 1.58-8.13) was observed between daily cash flow worry and impaired sleep during peak busy seasons. A large proportion of farmers surveyed suffered sleep deprivation during peak seasons, and this sleep loss appeared related to worries about cash flow that were not observed during non-peak seasons. It is possible that sleep loss during peak busy seasons may be related to impaired judgment, as shown by differential worry habits, and might also be related to the high injury rates in farmers during peak busy seasons."

Farm Safety & Connections to Stress

Note – these ag safety reminders can be tagged: “UW-Extension and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences” in the “fill in the blank” section of each. You can also personalize to fit your own needs and location. Timing on these should be approximately 30 seconds BEFORE the tag line.  If you choose to use these, please send an email to john.shutske@wisc.edu


STRESS AND SAFETY
The busy fall harvest creates tremendous stress for farmers and their families. In fact, farming is recognized as one of the most stressful occupations in America. It’s also one of the most dangerous. During the harvest rush, take time for yourself. It's easier for your body and mind to handle the stress this crunch time creates if you eat a well-balanced diet and get plenty of rest. Take time for your family and friends. One of the best ways to deal with the stress and pressure of farming is to talk openly about it with loved ones and friends. This message is brought to you by _____________________________, working with communities to promote a healthy and productive Wisconsin agriculture.

Combine Fire Prevention & Preparedness

Note – these ag safety reminders can be tagged: “UW-Extension and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences” in the “fill in the blank” section of each. You can also personalize to fit your own needs and location. Timing on these should be approximately 30 seconds BEFORE the tag line.  If you choose to use these, please send an email to john.shutske@wisc.edu
                                                                      
COMBINE FIRES
During this year's harvest season, a $300 thousand dollar combine can become a smoldering scrap heap in a matter of minutes. Combine and other farm machinery fires are common, but also preventable. Make sure your equipment is properly adjusted and maintained. Keep all areas of combines and tractors clean of crop residue and other flammable material buildup. Every combine should also be equipped with at least two ten-pound ABC dry chemical fire extinguishers. This message is brought to you by _____________________________, working with communities to promote a healthy and productive Wisconsin agriculture.


Silo Gas - An Important Airborne Hazard

Note – these ag safety reminders can be tagged: “UW-Extension and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences” in the “fill in the blank” section of each. You can also personalize to fit your own needs and location. Timing on these should be approximately 30 seconds BEFORE the tag line.  If you choose to use these, please send an email to john.shutske@wisc.edu




SILO GAS

One of the deadly gases that many Wisconsin dairy farmers encounter each year is silo gas, or, nitrogen dioxide. Silo gas forms a few hours after filling any type of silo, but it is especially an issue with tower silos. Silo gas is heavier than air, has a yellow-brown hazy appearance, and smells like bleach. Stay out of a freshly-filled silo and surrounding areas for at least two weeks after filling. When it is safe to enter, run the blower for at least an hour to assure that the gas has been removed and that there's a fresh supply of clean air. This message is brought to you by ___________________________, working with communities to promote a healthy and productive Wisconsin agriculture.




Prepare for a Safe Harvest


Note – these ag safety reminders can be tagged: “UW-Extension and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences” in the “fill in the blank” section of each. You can also personalize to fit your own needs and location. Timing on these should be approximately 30 seconds BEFORE the tag line.  If you choose to use these, please send an email to john.shutske@wisc.edu

HARVEST PREPARATION
Fall harvest is one of the busiest times of the year for farm families. It's also one of the most dangerous. Before you begin harvest fieldwork, make sure your combine, augers, trucks, wagons and other equipment are in top condition. Your operator's manual provides the best information for preparation. The frustration when a breakdown happens can lead to a serious injury. Take time... ahead of time... to make sure this harvest season is safe and productive. This message is brought to you by ______________________, working with communities to promote a healthy and productive Wisconsin agriculture.

Manure Handling Safety Webinar - Focus on Recent Deaths and Incidents & Practical Solutions

Photo link to USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
The recent manure gas fatality in Portage County, Wisconsin has prompted important questions about gases associated with pumping, agitating, and handling manure on farms. We've spent extra time investigating this incident which is relatively unique to Wisconsin since it occurred outside a pit, building or other confined structure. We've become more aware of other outside incidents in other states since this event occurred on August 15, 2016.  

An educational webinar will be held on Thursday, September 8, 2016 from 11:00 am – 12:00 noon CDT.  Please visit the UW Center for Agricultural Safety and Health web page announcement for all information including the LINK to sign up and participate.

Presenters will include:
  • Kevin Erb, UW Extension Conservation Professional Development and Training Coordinator Environmental Resources Center
  • Becky Larson, UW Madison/Extension Bio-waste Specialist
  • Cheryl Skjolaas, UW Madison/Extension Ag Safety and Health Specialist
  • Jeff Nelson, Instructor, UW Madison Biological Systems Engineering
  • John Shutske, UW Madison/Extension Agricultural Engineering Specialist
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Cheryl Skjolaas, Agricultural Safety and Health Specialist, UW – Madison/Extension Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, at skjolaas@wisc.edu

Update info on Manure Basin Fatality in Portage County

Photo linked to source URL - Bob Biadasz,
father of Michael who died on Aug 15, 2016
Last week, a very sad farm-related fatality occurred in Portage County, Wisconsin involving manure gases emanating from an open air storage basin, early in the morning during agitation. 

The incident along with a detailed video telling the story is linked here in the Stevens Point newspaper.

I have provided some additional comments and facts linked to the online story.  These are below:

Comments to Chris Mueller, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin:
In my professional role as an agricultural safety and health specialist, I've investigated several dozen manure-related fatalities and close calls (either through on-site investigations, factual reports, case studies, etc.). I want to provide caution on this incident and it being characterized as having been caused by "methane fumes." This case is so sad for Michael and his family, and my heart goes out to them.

Keep People Healthy at Fairs, Shows, and Ag-Tourism Venues


Sample poster from CDC website
This post comes a bit late into fair season, and I will repost it again next year before the summer starts. Fairs, petting zoos, livestock shows, expos, and other agricultural events are common throughout the Midwest. These venues create the potential for visitor exposure to infectious diseases, rabies, injuries, and other health problems among visitors.  Based on past incidents, children are at higher risk based on their physiology and developmentally-related characteristics. Kids also have greater exposure because of their likely contact with animals in these settings and their eating and other habits that connect little hands with little mouths.

This is by NO MEANS a new issue.  Yet, as I visit shows, fairs, and farms, I am surprised to still see lots of high-risk exposures, often combined with barriers to accessing adequate hygiene facilities and supplies. These same exposures can also create potential health threats farm visitors and workers.  

Thankfully, there is GREAT, research-based information available from highly credible sources including CDC and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians. Here are some curated points of interest that I hope you will find useful.

1.  CDC's Stay Healthy at Animal Exhibits website - contains bulleted and practical information from the public health/vet communities.

2.  Key points for those who manage or design these facilities (taken directly from CDC website):

If You Manage an Animal Exhibit Facility Design
  • Design the exhibit so that animal areas are separate from areas where people may eat food.
  • Use signs to state where the animal and food areas are located.
  • Install hand washing stations at the exit of the animal exhibit. Make sure that some of the hand washing stations are low enough for children to reach.
  • Use plain language and pictures to inform visitors on ways to keep safe and healthy when visiting animal exhibits.

Education/Information

  • Encourage visitors to wash their hands after visiting and/or handling animals.
  • Be aware that healthy animals can carry germs that might make visitors sick.
  • Train staff and educate visitors about preventing disease transmission between humans and animals.
  • Use a variety of methods to provide information to the public. For example, use brochures, signs, and verbal instructions. See an example visitor handout



3.  Comprehensive journal article - publicly available from American Veterinary Medical Association -- Citation in APA format: Williams, C.J., Scheftel, J.M., Elchos, B.L., Hopkins, S.G., & Levine, J.F. (2013). Compendium of Measures to Prevent Disease Associated with Animals in Public Settings, 2013. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 243(9), 1270-1288.


Fall Harvest Ag Safety Public Service Announcements

PSA’s Written and Provided by John M. Shutske, Ph.D.
Specialist, Biological Systems Engineering

Reviewed in 2016

Note – these ag safety reminders can be tagged: “UW-Extension and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences” in the “fill in the blank” section of each. You can also personalize to fit your own needs and location. Timing on these should be approximately 30 seconds BEFORE the tag line.  If you choose to use these, please send an email to john.shutske@wisc.edu

HARVEST PREPARATION

Fall harvest is one of the busiest times of the year for Wisconsin farm families. It's also one of the most dangerous. Before you begin harvest fieldwork, make sure your combine, augers, trucks, wagons and other equipment are in top condition. Your operator's manual provides the best information for routine preparation. The frustration when a breakdown happens can lead to a serious injury. Take time... ahead of time... to make sure this harvest season is safe and productive. This message is brought to you by ______________________, working with communities to promote a healthy and productive Wisconsin agriculture.
                                                                       
SILO GAS

One of the deadly gases that Wisconsin dairy farmers encounter each year is silo gas, or, nitrogen dioxide. Silo gas forms a few hours after filling any silo. Silo gas is heavier than air, has a yellow-brown hazy appearance, and smells a bit like bleach. Stay out of a freshly-filled silo and any surrounding areas for at least two weeks after it’s been filled. When it is safe to enter, run the blower for at least an hour to assure that the gas has been removed and that there's a fresh supply of clean air. This message is brought to you by ___________________________, working with communities to promote a healthy and productive Wisconsin agriculture.


STRESS AND SAFETY

The busy fall harvest creates tremendous stress for farmers and their families. In fact, farming is recognized as one of the most stressful occupations in America. It’s also one of the most dangerous. During the harvest rush, take time for yourself. It's easier for your body and mind to handle the stress this crunch time creates if you eat a well-balanced diet and get plenty of rest. Take time for your family and friends. One of the best ways to deal with the stress and pressure of farming is to talk openly about it with loved ones and friends. This message is brought to you by _____________________________, working with communities to promote a healthy and productive Wisconsin agriculture.

                                                                       
COMBINE FIRES



During this year's harvest season, a $300 thousand dollar combine can become a smoldering scrap heap in a matter of minutes. Combine and other farm machinery fires are quite common, but also preventable. Make sure your equipment is properly adjusted and maintained. Keep all areas of combines and tractors clean of crop residue and other flammable material buildup. Every combine should also be equipped with at least two ten-pound ABC dry chemical fire extinguishers. This message is brought to you by _____________________________, working with communities to promote a healthy and productive Wisconsin agriculture.