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Think Safety First

Keep your family, workers, and customers safe this summer by following these farm safety tips.

Operating Vehicles

During 1981 - 1990, 417 people were killed while working in agriculture in California, with highway motor vehicle crashes the most common cause. Prevention is relatively simple:

  • Always wear your seat belt, especially in pickups and larger trucks.
  • Place children in a car seat in the back seat, or attach a seatbelt. If you drink alcohol or take prescription or nonprescription drugs, ride as a passenger.


Children account for about 20 percent of all farm fatalities. The National Farm Medicine Center estimates the death toll in children younger than 20 years of age on U.S. farms and ranches at 300 each year. To safeguard your children:

  • Provide good supervision. If hiring a sitter is imposssible, work together with other families to care for children cooperatively.
  • Do not allow children to ride on tractors, even in a parent's arms or on a lap. Never leave a running machine unattended.
  • Keep pesticides, fuels, lubricants, soaps, disinfectants, solvents, and other chemicals in a locked storage facility.
  • Never put any harmful materials into food containers.
  • Fence ponds and other water areas.

Vehicle and Child-related safety tips by William E. Steinke, director, Farm Safety Program, UC Davis.

Food Safety

For best on-farm cleaning and sanitation, always clean and sanitize the inside, outside, lips, and handles of farm containers. Also keep in mind the following:

  • Do not dry nesting containers on soil or other potentially contaminated surfaces.
  • Do not stack or nest cleaned containers if they have been in connect with soil.
  • Do not use harvest containers for postharvest shipping or transport of lightly processed or "value-added" produce without an intervening cleaning and sanitation.
  • When possible, use containers in different colors for each application to minimize confusion as to prior on-farm use of a container.

Food safety tips prepared by Trevor Suslow, extension specialist, Department of Vegetable Crops, UC Davis.

Pesticide Safety

When working with pesticides, if you feel dizzy, sick, or have trouble breathing:

  • Stop what you are doing immediately and follow the appropriate emergency first aid procedures listed on the pesticide label.
  • If someone has swallowed a pesticide, never induce vomiting if the person is unconscious or having convulsions.
  • Have someone call ahead to tell the doctor the brand name and common name of the pesticide, the EPA registration number, and the name of the manufacturer.
  • If possible, take a copy of the pesticide label with you to the doctor.

Pesticide safety tips from "Pesticide Safety for Small Farms," available from the Small Farm Center.