Home | Farming and Environment | Fatigue in farming can injure or kill
Farming and Environment | 3rd August 2021

Fatigue in farming can injure or kill

Photo by Alasdair Costley

ILINCA Tone, a PhD psychology student at Aberdeen University studying the impacts of fatigue on farm safety asks whether there is a connection between the risk of a accident in agriculture and workplace fatigue.
Ilina is part of the Non-technical Skills Agriculture (NTSAg) group.

She said: “As a farmer, you have probably felt extremely tired at work at least once in the past year, especially when going through calving or lambing, working long hours or during the night, dealing with high workload, not sleeping properly or at all.
“Fatigue is when you wake up tired day after day, when you feel you don’t have the same power to get up and do jobs or a consistent feeling of not having slept.

“Fatigue can put you and others at risk of accident and injury.

“Many farmers, who have taken part in our research projects, frequently reported the incidents they were involved in boiled down to fatigue or rushing.
“We interviewed farmers on their experience of fatigue.

“Many said they took more risks or shortcuts and rushed to get the job done when extremely tired.

“Their alertness or concentration dropped and they were aware of what was going on around them but less able to spot when things were going wrong.
“Fatigue can be prevented most of the time in farming through good sleep, proper food and relaxation, but not always.

“It is sometimes a fact of life in agriculture because you can’t stop calving or harvest from happening every year.

“What can you do to tackle fatigue when it creeps in? Some of the farmers in our study suggested several useful strategies.
Firstly, foremost, the moment you feel the first signs of fatigue, take a break. Or, even better, take a quick nap in a safe space.

Firstly, it’s important and perfectly normal to occasionally take time off, preferably to get away from the farm, even if just for an hour or two.

“Postpone non-essential tasks or pass these onto somebody else if working in a team.

“When working while fatigued, keep in touch with others so you can get help in case of an emergency and keep yourself alert.”

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