OSHA Safety Manuals | Changing Crops During Drought
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changing crops during drought

Changing Crops During Drought

Changing Crops During Drought

The California agriculture industry grows half of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts consumed in our nation. As drought conditions intensify, many farmers are changing their crops to less water intensive plants, drought resistant crops, or leaving their lands fallow. With this shift, causing needed changes in cultivation and harvesting, require farmers to conduct a hazard analysis to update safety procedures for equipment, tools and chemicals related to new crops and processes.

New crops may require changing implements on your farming equipment. Make sure to:

  • Get training on the operation of any new blades, discs, or other implements
  • Use lockout/blockout procedures when you remove and add implements
  • Keep blades sharpened
  • Inspect equipment before each use for correct operation

Changes to hand cultivating, treatment, and crop harvest techniques requires that you:

  • Evaluate that your hand tools are appropriate for the new crop and train employees to use them
  • Examine handle sizes, shapes, angles, and lengths to ensure that work can be done with good ergonomics and safe body postures
  • Train employees on proper ergonomics, body positioning, and good lifting techniques to reduce the risk of strains and sprains

Changing water conditions can also require changes to irrigation systems. Follow safety guidelines such as:

  • Use good trenching techniques when you dig to add or remove equipment
  • Formulate and apply lockout/tagout procedures when you work on power sources and automatic equipment
  • Watch for and avoid power lines when you add or remove lengths of piping
  • Watch for changing movement and activation patterns of automatic equipment

Address chemical safety if you change pesticides, fertilizer, or other additives with your new crop:

  • Update safety data sheets for every new chemical
  • Review chemicals for personal protection equipment requirements
  • Train employees on potential hazards and proper handling procedures for all chemicals used in your operation

Consider any other field safety issues that might change with your crop. Update procedures and train employees on:

  • Anticipated new pests that may be attracted to new crops
  • Crop activities that may occur at different times of the day or season
  • Updates to heat illness and cold stress prevention procedures
  • Lighting needs for safe movements and activities
  • Changes in field vehicle needs and safety procedures
  • Terrain changes and uneven or unstable walking surfaces

Analyze and plan for any drought-related changes to your farming procedures and equipment so you can prepare workers and keep them safe on the job.