Fatigue alert as seeding starts

28 Jun, 2000 11:08 AM

FARMSAFE WA is urging farmers to schedule periodic seeding breaks due to an alarming number of work related accidents caused by fatigue. Making sure cropping programs weren't further delayed due to accidents caused by fatigue was the message from Farmsafe WA after the recent late rains. Farmsafe WA executive officer Nicky Egginton said fatigue following long periods spent on tractors during seeding was a major area of concern for the company and he urged farmers who were in a hurry to get crops in the ground to take precautions. Ms Egginton said, with the recent rains around the state, farmers would be frantically busy trying to get their crops in quickly. "This often leads to the farmer working long hours without sufficient breaks, causing fatigue," she said. "We all know that more injuries occur when people get tired." Defined as a loss of alertness which eventually ends in sleep, fatigue is accompanied by poor judgement, slower reactions to events, and decreased skill levels, including operating machinery. Resulting from long or arduous work, such as seeding, and little or poor sleep, fatigue also affects the efficiency and productivity of a worker performing tasks. More importantly, said Ms Egginton, was the fact that fatigue impairs a worker's judgement of his or her own state of fatigue. "This means they may not realise that they are suffering from fatigue and not notice mistakes being made," she said. Due to fatigue, the risk of injury increases when a farmer is working at times when they would normally be asleep, particularly in the middle of the night. Injury due to fatigue also creases when working prolonged hours ‹ greater than 12 hours ‹ combined with early starts and irregular eating and sleeping patterns. According to Farmsafe WA, warning signs that the body is tiring and where continuing to work would place you at great risk of injury include: a drowsy, relaxed feeling; blurred vision; difficulty keeping eyes open; head nodding; excessive yawning; increased errors; and loss of concentration. Ms Egginton said that all farmers needed to consider ways to manage fatigue during the busy seeding period by using such means as: prestricting continuous working periods (driving the tractor) to no more than five hours; pa minimum break of 30 minute within every 5.5-hour period; pensuring at least six hours of continuous sleep in 24 hours; pbeing aware of the signs of being tired and taking breaks as they occur; phaving regular nutritious meals with healthy foods available as snacks; and pmaintaining a healthy lifestyle by restricting alcohol, eating properly and exercising.


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