Here is an article I found on the importance of designing tools that work for women. Trying to use tools that just don’t work the way they are supposed to is a constant problem for me, ranging from the minor annoyance of having to find a step stool because I’m too short to reach something to blisters and sore muscles from tools improperly because I physically can’t use them the way they were designed. Power tools in particular tend to be problematic. A lot of drills and saws that are designed to be used one-handed are so bulky and heavy that I end up having to use both hands which puts my back and shoulders in an awkward position. Tools attached to poles like shovels, weed cutters, tree trimmers, etc are also a problem because the handles are never the right length. I end up having to work around the ends of the poles or can’t use the grips correctly. If it’s a tool I’m carrying, sometimes have to carry it in the wrong direction or lift it way higher than I should because the ends drag on the ground or cause me to trip. For example, when I’m checking fences and am carrying a tree trimmer bucket of fencing supplies, the arm carrying the trimmer has to be held at chest height so the handles aren’t dragging on the ground and I end up with a sore arm for a couple of days afterwards.
The percentage of female farmers and farm employees is growing, and with that the demand for tools that are designed for women is growing. There are more tool sets being marketed to women than there used to be, but be careful when you go out looking for “women’s tools” that you are buying are well-made tools ergonomically designed for women. A lot of the “women’s tool sets” that I’ve looked at are either 1) cheaply made tools that are just smaller rather than ergonomically re-designed or 2) tools that haven’t been redesigned at all but have been painted pink. Through jewelry making and stained glass I’ve found a couple fantastic sets of pliers, and Sears at one point had a really good women’s ergonomic hammer, but otherwise I haven’t had much luck. It sounds like there is a group of ergonomics researchers who are looking to change that though, so here’s hoping they come out with some better options.
With a lot of the East Coast experiencing flooding, I thought I’d post some flood cleanup guidelines from AgriSafe. I was able to see a presentation on flood recovery at the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health (ISASH) conference over the summer, and the information from AgriSafe covers the same information as the presentation. There are so many things to consider before attempting to clean up after a flood. Flood water is almost always contaminated with sewage and animal waste, plus farm chemicals might also be part of the mix. Debris including broken glass, wood splinters, mud, metal, etc can make it extremely dangerous to enter the water. It also only takes a day or two for potentially toxic mold to start growing on wet surfaces. Clearing debris is hard work that can easily cause injury or exhaustion. Damage to structures and electrical systems can put clean up crews at risk for electric shock or even building collapse. In short, before you attempt to clean up, thoroughly research what the hazards might be and take precautions before you start work. The information on the AgriSafe network is a good source for general information. Also, don’t hesitate to call in the experts. Many FEMA and local disaster recovery groups are able to provide protective equipment and expert advice for individual cleanup projects, so if you find yourself dealing with a flood be sure to check for local resources too.
Click on the link below to see AgriSafe’s flood cleanup guides and checklists:
Here is an article from AgPro that talks about how remote technology is allowing a farmer with ALS to keep working. Even though he is no longer able to get in the tractor, remote data access and employees are allowing him to manage his farm from the office. Click on the link below to view the article.
Here is a fun video that uses food to demonstrate why PPE (personal protective equipment) is important. It also shows why non-safety eye wear doesn’t provide as much protection as you would like. In the database I’ve seen one near-miss where the person’s glasses were fortunately enough to protect their eyes from a piece of wood, but in another case, someone suffered permanent eye damage from a steel burr because they weren’t wearing any eye protection. We also have numerous cases of injuries as a result of getting stepped on, something getting dropped, or stepping on something while not wearing protective footwear. A lot of PPE is cheap and readily available, so make sure you have some and are wearing it!