For many farmers, fall requires long days in the field and little rest. The pressure to harvest as much as possible, combined with fatigue and looming deadlines, increases the risk of injury. In fact, most injuries occur during the spring and fall when stress and fatigue are common among farmers.
The safety and health of workers, including making time for sleep, should be a priority when considering a farm’s productivity, according to Josie Rudolphi, University of Illinois Extension associate research scientist. “Rushing and cutting corners can lead to injury, which
no one has time for, especially during the harvest,” said Rudolphi.
Rudolphi grew up on a farm and understands the pressures of harvest season. She said getting proper rest can make a huge difference in staying safe, but during the time crunch of harvest
season, farmers sacrifice sleep to work late into the night. “Sleep deficiency has been associated with increased injury, reduced reaction time, and reduced concentration,” said
Rudolphi. “All of which could impact health and safety, as well as productivity.”
The demands of harvest are stressful, and a lack of sleep can intensify that
and lead to errors in the fields or even on the roads.
To improve sleep, Rudolphi advises farmers to go to bed and wake up at regular times when possible. They can use rainy days to catch up on sleep.
Other sleep tips include:
• Create a bedroom environment that encourages sleep; keep it quiet, dark and cool.
• Limit electronic device use.
• Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
In addition to improving sleep, managing stress is an important component to injury prevention, health and safety, according to Rudolphi. “By using the ‘Four A’ Method of avoid (planning ahead), adapt (changing expectations), alter (changing the situation when you can) and accept (acknowledging that a situation is what it is), farmers can successfully manage the stress of long hours and unpredictability,” added Rudolphi.
For information about safety around electricity, including farm safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.