As people age, they have to deal with physical factors that decrease their ability to perform what were once routine tasks. Aging can affect reflexes, quickness and accuracy while performing farm chores. Changes in vision and depth perception can impair abilities, including those needed to operate machinery properly.

As farmers age, they have a higher risk of injury and death as a result of physical limitations. Work practices and views on safety are deeply ingrained and difficult to change after a lifetime of farming. Farmers often view taking risks as routine, which can be even more dangerous as age-related limitations become a reality.

Here are some general precautions to consider — regardless of your age, but especially during later years. The tips are presented from Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development.

  • Increase light in areas with low visibility.
  • Complete tasks when daylight is abundant.
  • Vision is most hampered at dusk and dawn.
  • Take regular rest breaks – fatigue leads to injury.
  • Assess your abilities and those of others, as it applies. Readjust your limitations accordingly.
  • Install gates, doors and animal-handling facilities that are easy to use. Use safety devices such as handrails and guards on equipment.
  • Reduce the chance of slips and falls throughout the operation by installing non-slip flooring and handrails in strategic locations.
  • Ensure that tractor-rollover-protection structures are in place. Always buckle up once in the driver’s seat.
  • Get regular medical checkups and check prescriptions to ensure their use does not interfere with your ability to operate machinery safely.
  • Work with others or, if this is not possible, make arrangements to have someone check on you at regular intervals.
  • Stay in contact with a cell phone or radio.