Farm Stress Can Lead to Increased Accident Risks (News Release)

Increased stress can lead to accidents and in farming, that's a dangerous combination, says _____________ , ___________.

"The fact that farming is one of the 10 most stressful occupations and also one of the three most dangerous is not a coincidence," s/he says. "The combination of stress and daily work around powerful machinery in varying and unpredictable situations can lead to accidents."

_____________ said the most effective way to combat this problem is to be able to recognize events that can be stressful, and plan ways to deal with added stress before symptoms get severe.

"No event or situation by itself is stressful. However, some kinds of events are likely to add more stress to our lives than other kinds of events," s/he explains. "When you don't know what to expect, or the situation is beyond your control, you're more likely to experience stress. Long-lasting problems that build over time also can lead to chronic stress."

Studies show that some types of farm operators experience more stress than others.

Younger farmers, especially those younger than 50, report more stress than older farmers.

Farmers in dairy or mixed (grain and livestock) operations report higher stress levels than farmers in grain operations.

Farmers employed in off-farm jobs report more stress than full-time farm operators.

Farm women may experience additional stresses. Besides working as a full-time partner in the farm business, many farm women have full responsibility for home and family matters.

What can farm operators do to reduce stress and avoid accidents?

"Recognize that you will feel stress from time to time, know the symptoms of stress, such as headaches or stomach problems, or changes in sleep patterns, smoking or drinking," ________ says. "Once you recognize the symptoms, then you can decide to do something about what causes them."

Plan to eat nutritious foods. "Just as machinery needs top quality fuel, your body needs nutrients to do its work," s/he says. Breakfast is an important meal for farm operators, and breaks for snacks provide a needed relief, too.

___________ suggests some type of daily relaxation and some form of aerobic exercise at least three times a week. Even though farmers get a lot of exercise, vigorous exercise is needed to get the heart at acceptable levels, s/he adds.

For more information about farm safety and stress, contact your County Extension office at ________. Also available is a SAFE FARM Extension publication, Manage Stress to Increase Farm Safety, Pm-1265l. Single copies of the publication are free.

This newsletter item was distributed by Iowa State University Extension as part of the Safe Farm program. Safe Farm promotes health and safety in agriculture. It is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Iowa State University, and a network of groups that serve Iowa farm workers and their families. Distribution date: December 1992.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More