Archive of ‘Agricultural Safety’ category

Food Safety Courses for Produce Handlers/Growers


vegetablesIn 2014, three initial training opportunities will be offered for produce growers on food safety and good agricultural practices and good handling practices (GAP’s and GHP’s) by the Delaware Cooperative Extension.  Training covers microbial food contaminants, outbreaks associated with produce, how produce becomes contaminated, Good Agricultural Practices in the field (water sources; animals, manures, and compost; field sanitation; and worker hygiene) and Good Handling Practices from harvest to sales (packing area sanitation, worker hygiene, storage, handling, and shipping).

For growers who have attended previous trainings, we are having two update sessions which will provide the latest information on produce food safety science, industry actions, audit requirements, and the status of the FDA rule.  A portion of the session will be spent on recommendations for produce wash water disinfection and produce contact surface disinfection.  Recertification credits will be given.

All Sessions will be held at University of Delaware County Extension Offices

New Castle: 461 Wyoming Road, Newark, DE — Kent: 69 Transportation Circle Dover, DE— Sussex: 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown, DE

 Dates and Locations:

Initial sessions for those who have not attended training in the past:

NEW CASTLE COUNTY – April 3, 6-9 p.m. basic session.  Phone (302) 831-2667 to register.

KENT COUNTY – March 31, 9 a.m.-noon for the basic session with an additional 3 hours for those selling to wholesalers from 12:30-3:30 p.m.  Phone (302) 730-4000 to register

SUSSEX COUNTY – March 27, 6-9 p.m. for the basic session with an additional 3 hour session for those selling to wholesalers on April 1 from 6-9 p.m.   Phone (302) 856-7303 to register.

Update sessions for those that have already attended trainings:

KENT COUNTY – March 25, 9 a.m.-noon   Phone (302) 730-4000 to register.

SUSSEX COUNTY – March 19, 6-9 p.m.  Phone (302) 856-7303 to register.

Children of Delaware’s migrant workers learn valuable safety lessons from Cooperative Extension

On August 1, 2012, 44 youth, all children of temporary migrant workers who are employed  during the summer in the agricultural sector in Kent and Sussex County,  were treated to a Ag Safety  Day Camp, a full day of extracurricular activities organized by Delaware Cooperative Extension Safety Agent Mike Love, and his team of volunteers from Sussex Central High School FFA. The day was part of a  six week summer program developed to promote academic, safety and other learning experiences for children of temporary migrant workers who travel throughout the country.

Children of migrant workers may be exposed to various farm equipment – This program teaches them how to be careful around specialized machinery.

Wednesday’s day trip to the Carvel Research and Education Center included several educational demonstrations or “classes” so that children could have the opportunity to enhance their safety skills in different environments that they encounter. Because many of the program’s children live on Delaware farms, agricultural equipment was an emphasis for the day.

Children arrived with their teachers from Eagle’s Nest and Milford Boys and Girls Club and watched demonstrations on child safety restraints and their proper use, air bag deployment, chemical and ATV safety, safety around water, and safe practices around a variety of home and farm equipment. While the primary purpose of the  federal program concentrates on academics, the summer day trips, such as this safety exposition, reflect common and practical scenarios that the children encounter in their day – to-day lives on the farm and on the road.

Maria Mendoza, field agent and migrant advocate from the Delaware Department of Education explained the value of their visit with Cooperative Extension. “These children are on the road a lot, traveling from state to state.” says Mendoza.  “Typically these children are in Delaware with their families during the growing season from June to August.”

Through the collaborative efforts,  children receive extensive educational reinforcement, which today included safety training on many levels. View our photo gallery of the day on our Flickr set

Here’s Mike explaining the purpose of Ag Safety Day and see a highlight of one of the demonstrations:

Photos & video by Lisa Collins and Michele Walfred

Safe Farming Possible for Those with Vision Problems

Vision impairment can be a significant barrier to completing farm tasks safely and efficiently, but many vision problems such as cataracts are treatable.  Farmers are an at-risk population for cataracts and the Mid-Atlantic AgrAbility Project reminds farmers that there are ways to prevent cataracts and accommodate low vision or loss of vision in everyday farming tasks.

Estimates indicate that one in seven people in the United States has a cataract.  That statistic applies to farmers as well as the general public.  A cataract is a clouding of the normal clear lens of the eye, preventing light from passing through to focus properly on the retina.  If you believe you have a cataract, see your family eye doctor for a complete examination.  Symptoms of a cataract may include increased nearsightedness; sensitivity to light and glare, especially while driving at night; blurred vision; distorted images in either eye; changes in the way you see colors, or colors seem faded; cloudy, filmy or fuzzy vision; double vision; frequent changes in your eyeglass prescription; changes in the color of the pupil; poor night vision.  Medical advances make it possible to successfully treat cataracts with surgery.  According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, cataract surgery is the most frequently performed surgical procedure in the United States and has more than a 90% success rate.

Farming with any vision impairment, including a cataract, can be challenging and dangerous.  If you find yourself trying to farm with impaired sight, the following tips from the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired can make farm chores a bit safer:

  • Hang wind chimes outside the house as an audible landmark.  “Tune” farm buildings by using different chimes to identify different buildings.
  • Suspend a tennis or playground ball from a piece of twine to mark when to stop a vehicle as you drive into a building.  The idea is that when the vehicle’s windshield bumps into the ball it’s time to stop.
  • Make sure work areas and walkways are well lighted and that light bulbs are checked and replaced regularly.
  • Color code tools like rakes, hoes and shovels by wrapping a wide band of colored duct or electrical tape around the handles.
  • Wrap rubber bands around handles to distinguish between regular and Phillips head screw drivers.  Do the same with metric wrenches in the tool box to distinguish them from standard wrenches.
  • Hang an old burlap feed bag about two feet away from a low-hanging beam or light fixture as a reminder to duck your head.  Burlap works best because it is more likely to catch on a cap than smoother materials.
  • Prevent eye damage by wearing sunglasses that block UVA/UVB rays and a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors to reduce exposing eyes to ultraviolet light.

For more information about farming with a disability, visit the Mid-Atlantic Agrability Web site at  or call 1-877-204-3276  to make an appointment with an AgrAbility Case Manager.


Farm emergencies are focus of Sussex County Cooperative Extension

Agriculture can be a risky profession. In 2009, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported 551 fatal injuries in the agriculture, fishing and forestry injuries. Crop production represented 278 of these fatalities, followed by 141 fatalities related to animal production.  According to NIOSH website,  agriculture employs proportionally more workers aged 16-19 and aged 55 years or older. During the decade 1992-2001, agriculture was the leading source of work-related deaths. During this same time span, farm tractors were involved with 2,165 fatal occupational injuries. NIOSH does not collect serious or minor injuries since they are often classified as residential accidents.

Members of Bridgeville and Greenwood Fire Companies respond to a simulated overturned tractor at UD's research farm in Georgetown

Delaware’s agricultural safety track record for 2009 is excellent, with zero fatalities reported that year. It is a record Mike Love, safety agent with University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, does not take for granted and intends to maintain.  For three days, Dec.9-11,2011, Love coordinated an intensive Farm Emergency Course for area responders from the Bridgeville and Greenwood Volunteer Fire Companies. The course was taught on the grounds of the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown, classroom instruction at  the Bridgeville Fire Company, and included an extended tour of a large family dairy farm in Bridgeville. The effort was a partnership with UD and Penn State University’s Managing Agriculture Emergencies program.

“Our emergency personnel are virtual experts at responding to residential accidents and motor vehicle crashes,” Love says. “But farm equipment is different, heaver and uses different metals than most EMT’s are familiar with.

“While we think of a farm as a home, it is actually an industrial site with potential risks. This training gives them an awareness level and valuable hands-on experience,” Love says.

Throughout the weekend various rescue scenario modules were set up to simulate a variety of tractor and equipment mishaps, exposing rescuers with specific extrication challenges and provisions for patient care.  Modules included tractor rollovers and various farm equipment entrapment/entanglement. Different hazards that face workers in the agricultural sector were reviewed.

Methods to secure and stabilize equipment, such as in the case of overturned tractors, were stressed. Responders encountered various entrapped mannequins and received training on how to properly stabilize equipment before attempting rescue.

In addition to traumatic injuries, emergency personnel reviewed methods to safely free individuals from farm equipment who might become disabled due to other health issues such as heat exhaustion, diabetes incident or heart attack. Using volunteer patients, the exercise was an opportunity for responders to become better acquainted on handling patients within the limited spaces, complicated angles, and entanglements that are unique to agriculture and its equipment.

EMTs from Greenwood and Bridgeville remove a simulated patient from a combine

The training included an extended tour of a large dairy farm in Bridgeville. First responders were able to access specialized farm equipment, such as a combine and familiarize themselves with farm buildings.  Additional simulated rescues were performed on site. The tour was an opportunity for first responders to get the lay of the land of a typical Delaware farm and observe how farm vehicles operate on agricultural terrain.

Love invited his colleagues from Penn State to present their farm rescue program in classroom sessions. First responders practiced with modules that included patient care, critical pre-planning and decision making exercises, and a review of the unique challenges of specialized farm equipment.    “We are especially grateful for the well-established expertise of Dave Hill, program director for Penn State’s Managing Agriculture Emergencies and Eric Rickenbach, fire and safety instructor at Penn State for coming to Delaware and sharing their knowledge,” Love says.

For more information about agricultural safety and the Farm Emergencies course, contact Mike Love at the Carvel Research and Education Center, (302) 856-2585 ext 583

Eric Rickenbach, Penn State provides instruction to Sussex County responders

Additional photos are available at the Carvel Flickr site

All photos by Pete Stephens, volunteer firefighter, Bridgeville Fire Company.