Every farmer’s goal is to maintain a safe and healthy environment for both employees and livestock. However, farming can be a risky business – especially when harsh chemicals like pesticides and herbicides are present. Exposure to toxic chemicals is one of the leading causes of illness and death for farm animals and workers.
Avoiding contamination is vital to the overall safety and well-being of your operation. While the use of pesticides and herbicides provides benefits to certain areas on the farm, proper handling is essential to ensure safe use and avoid contamination of equipment and animal living spaces.
Although pesticides are often used to reduce the need for substantial manual labor, it’s important to respect the negative effects they pose to those inhabiting the farm and to take all necessary safety precautions before use.
The simplest way to avoid accidents is to store pesticides safely. The Pesticide Environmental Stewardship recommends the following guidelines for safe storage:
- Never let anyone eat, drink or smoke in the storage facility.
- Store pesticides in their original labeled containers. Never store pesticides in milk jugs, soft drink bottles, fruit jars or medicine bottles.
- Do not store pesticides with or near food, medicine, cleaning supplies, fertilizers, seed or animal feed.
- Do not keep gasoline, kerosene or other combustible materials with pesticides.
- Make sure pesticides are not kept near operations that present a fire hazard, such as burning and welding.
- Do not leave any pesticide container in full sun or next to a heater.
- Store pesticides on metal shelves with a lip or on wood shelves covered with plastic or chemically resistant epoxy paint. Leak-proof plastic trays on shelves work well. Do not store pesticides on the floor. Use pallets under large containers/bags.
- Keep the storage area neat and clean at all times. Keep the area free of debris such as waste paper, rags or used cardboard boxes, which may provide an ignition source. Clean up any spills immediately.
- Store dry formulations on the highest shelves. Store liquids and glass containers on the lowest level. This will prevent contamination in case a liquid container leaks.
Safe use and disposal of chemicals
Chemicals can pose imminent danger if used incorrectly. Farmers should ensure that workers tasked with handling them are properly trained on the specific chemicals to be used and on any equipment that may be required for application. If chemicals must be mixed, decanting kits should be used in a well-ventilated area to reduce the risks of spills. For those who will have direct contact with chemicals, protective clothing is recommended, including goggles, gloves and appropriate face coverings for extra security.
Proper disposal of chemicals is also extremely important. Below are some key tips to avoid potential contamination as listed by the Better Health Channel:
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper disposal of chemicals and rinse equipment thoroughly.
- Triple rinse and then puncture empty containers to prevent reuse for other purposes.
- Return empty containers to the manufacturer or check with your local council about proper disposal methods.
Chemical contamination on your farm can be disastrous. Following these recommendations will help protect your farm from the dangers these substances may cause. For a little extra security in case the unimaginable occurs, consider James Allen Insurance’s farm pollution liability policy.