Before building a freestall barn, our cows were housed in tie stalls and loose housing. As you might find in many tie stall barns, ours had cow trainers.
Cow trainers look like a thin metal upside-down “T” hanging down from a hot wire strung above the stalls. Their job is to get a cow to step back and deposit future fertilizer in the gutter behind her rather than in her stall so she won’t lay in it.
During my most memorable experience with the cow trainers I had stepped into a stall to do something with the cows. I was standing there, with my hand on the metal-pipe stall divider trying to figure out why I felt so strange. I finally realized that not only were the cow trainers on, but one was lying on my shoulder.
OK, electricity, hand on a metal pipe … quite a buzz … and probably not smart for a person with a pacemaker. It was most definitely working.
While this particular hazard was not identified, I was surprised to see a new fact sheet from the OSU Extension AgrAbility series Secondary Injury Prevention: Farming with a Pacemaker.
Thirty years ago, there were many restrictions for people with pacemakers. Today you can safely use microwave ovens and other appliances.
However, if farming, there are a few adjustments and precautions that pacemaker wearers should make when using welders, chainsaws, and other electrical-ignition tools. These are nicely outlined in the fact sheet. Some farms conduct short safety training sessions for employees.
The fact sheets in this new series are brief and to-the-point, making them good resources for these training sessions. Available topics include Secondary Injury Caused by Lifting; Secondary Injury Prevention: Caught-in, Caught-between; or Stuck by Objects, Ergonomics for the Farm; Walking and Working Surfaces; and Heat Stress.
In addition to Overexertion Causing Secondary Injury, a final fact sheet focuses on Safety for Senior Farmers. Now we might be inclined to chuckle about that senior farmer one, but with the average age of Ohio farm operators pushing 56 years, for many farmers, those senior years are here or getting closer.
Having recently made it half-way to 100 myself, I am acutely aware that as a 50-year-old person I do not have the stamina, strength, eyesight or hearing that I had at 21. Frequently annoying, but true.
Attention to these topics may help farm workers avoid needing the services of the Ohio AgrAbility Program, part of a national program from the USDA that promotes independence for people in agriculture who want to continue to farm after experiencing a disabling condition.
Check out available services at http://agrability.osu.edu. An ounce of prevention not only helps people avoid injury, but is also another way to control costs on our farms.
Check out these new fact sheets at http://ohioline.osu.edu/lines/farm.html#FSAFE. It will only cost you a little time.
(The author is an OSU Extension dairy specialist located at the extension center in Wooster; 330-263-3799. Send comments or questions in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)