When the weather during harvest is good and the crop is ready, it’s hard to stay out of the field if you can run. As the season progresses, weather delays, equipment problems and other issues that delay harvest can make for long days that stretch the limits of our endurance. Fatigue can set in, creating an even more hazardous situation around very hazardous equipment.
We need to keep everyone safe during the extended harvest season. Without adequate sleep we can become irritable, quiet, withdrawn and unfocused. We can also experience poor memory retention, blurred vision, extended yawning and increased illness due to a compromised immune system. All these potentially negative outcomes require us to take action to prevent fatigue.
Here are some ways to reduce fatigue for you and your employees:
- Eat well. Don’t just snack through the day. Be sure to eat healthy meals with a balance of protein and healthy carbs, as well as fruits and nuts.
- Get plenty to drink, and drink healthy. Sodas might be a good snack and provide some caffeine, but overdoing them can lead to sugar highs and then sudden onset fatigue. Drink juices and plenty of water to balance your fluid intake.
- Don’t rely on energy drinks. If you need energy drinks to keep you going, then you need to make other lifestyle changes.
- Get a little exercise through the day. Get out of the combine, field equipment or truck and flex your muscles, bend your legs, swing your arms, bend over and touch your toes, etc. Just a little flexing can prevent muscle spasms, cramps and aches, and promote circulation that will help with alertness.
- Rotate operating different equipment. Taking even a couple hours out of your regular piece of equipment and operating something else can stimulate your mind, work different muscle groups and enhance your level of focus.
- Know your own cycle of alertness. If you tend to get tired in the middle of the afternoon, in the early evening or at any other particular time of day, change your behavior and activities to accommodate that drop in energy.
- Get good sleep every night. Even a few hours of quality sleep will be adequate, so do what is needed to ensure good rest.
Realize that you are working with very hazardous equipment for long hours at a time. Take time with your family and friends to avoid any tendency for isolation. Remember, if you are fatigued and your performance goes down, you are putting yourself at risk—and everyone around you.