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Safety Tips for Working With Agricultural Chemicals

All of these chemicals need to be treated with great respect as if misused they may be detrimental to your health or that of any livestock around the farm.

Unfortunately though, it’s not unusual to see bad practices adopted when handling chemicals, often due to a degree of complacency which arises from over-familiarity.
So, without any apologies, here are a few very basic safety tips that should already be common practice but which aren’t always adopted.

1. Read the instructions carefully. If that sounds blindingly obvious, numbers of studies have shown that many people consistently fail to read the safety and usage instructions on products before opening them up and starting to use them.

2. Wear goggles when handling any form of industrial or agricultural chemical. Although not all will necessarily be dangerous if they get into your eye, many will be. Even if they are not, it’s a smart idea to keep chemicals out of your body and your eyes.

3. Always use gloves. There are two reasons you should do so. The first is to stop chemicals getting on to your hands and then being accidentally transferred to foodstuffs – be they yours or those of your animals. The second is because it’s not unusual for hands to carry cuts and abrasions and that’s a good entry point for chemicals into your bloodstream.

4. In the same line of advice, always use a mask when dealing with powdered chemicals. Even if they are granular, when being handled they will throw up dust and it’s always a good idea to keep dust out of your respiratory system, particularly when it is of a chemical nature.

5. Keep chemicals well away from your livestock unless they are specifically approved for such use. Some animals will eat almost anything they can.

6. Don’t let children play anywhere near your stored chemicals or handle them – at least not if they are younger kids. Basic common sense safety precautions that are routine to you can be forgotten in an instant by children – however hard you’ve lectured them beforehand.

7. Where chemical products need to be mixed or diluted prior to use, make sure you keep to the recommended quantities. Don’t guess or throw lots of extra in for ‘good measure’. That can sometimes turn what should be a relatively harmless product into something that is overly-strong and potentially dangerous.

8. Use some form of a protective and non-porous overalls, particularly when spraying. You should be able to pick those up from a farm machinery trader or similar. True, you probably don’t want to make yourself look like an extra in a science fiction movie but chemicals can penetrate ordinary porous clothes and overalls and they can then easily be transported into the home when washing etc.

9. Finally, make sure that you understand all state regulations relating to what chemicals may or may not be used on your farm, for a specific purpose or in a given vicinity. Some chemicals may, for example, be perfectly permissible but only if they are used a specified distance away from a water source.

Chemical awareness is much greater today than it has been in the past. Even so, many people in the agricultural industry will admit that there is always scope for improvement.