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SPOTLIGHT
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Dress for safety

Published on -4/16/2014, 10:09 AM

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What's today's fashionable farmer wearing to work?

If you guessed any of the high fashions featured in GQ, Vanity Fair or Esquire, guess again.

Looking good is great when you go to town, but safety and comfort are more important when dressing for farm chores.

Let's begin with the head, after all that's where thinking about safety should start.

Head injuries are common on the farm and tend to be serious. When doing work that might involve head hazards, trade your comfy ball cap for a hard hat.

When you're spraying chemicals overhead, wear a wide-brimmed hat that is impervious to liquids. Make sure the brim is wide enough to keep chemical spray from drifting down on the back of your neck or face.

Eyes have been called the "window to the soul," but just like all windows, they can break if something is hurled, splashed or sprayed into them.

Safety goggles and sunglasses should be just as much a part of your daily garb as a good pair of steel-toed shoes. Sunglasses are important because they lessen eye fatigue after long hours in the bright summer sun.

While many people consider the farm and rural America a place of quiet tranquility, many farmers experience hearing loss.

As a general rule, whenever the noise level reaches 85 decibels, farmers should reach for ear protection. While farmers don't carry testing equipment to measure decibel level, they should wear protection when in doubt as to the noise level. Wear ear protection for comfort as well; loud noises can be distracting.

Ear covers are preferable to ear plugs because the latter can cause compaction of ear wax that is difficult to remove.

While they might be more comfortable, avoid wearing loose fitting clothes. If you plan to stay in the sun most of the day, wear sun screen for protection from the sun's harmful rays.

Avoid wearing sweats with long drawstrings that hang from the waist or around the neck. These strings are made of extremely strong nylon or other artificial fibers. Such fibers don't rip or tear as easily as clothing like cotton. It's easy for dangling strings to catch in augers or other moving parts.

The same applies for long hair. Tie hair back and avoid the risk of becoming entangled in moving parts.

Shoes and boots can provide foot protection and good traction. Make certain your shoes are clean of mud and manure that can cause slipping and falls.

Good fit is important for both day-long comfort and stability. When spraying chemicals, wear waterproof or impervious footwear.

Rings hang up on bolts, sharp corners or just about anything you find around a farmstead. Always remove rings and other loose-fitting jewelry. If you fail to do so, you easily could lose or injure a finger or some other limb.

While the safely-dressed farmers will not make the fashion pages of GQ, Vanity Fair or Esquire or even their local paper, you won't find them in the hospital, emergency room or obituary pages either.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwest

Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.

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