Farm safety and handling agrochemicals
1 year ago
Common agricultural chemicals (agrichemicals) include fuels, solvents, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilisers and veterinary chemicals. Farmers need to take care when storing, transporting, using and disposing of chemicals to ensure their own safety; their neighbours’ safety and that of the environment.
Commonly used agrichemicals include:
- aluminium or zinc phosphide – fumigant
- methyl bromide
- sodium fluoroacetate – '1080' baits
- paraquat, diquat
- alkaline and acid cleaning agents
- nutritional supplements – selenium and copper
- livestock vaccines and drenches
Side effects of exposure to agrichemicals
- pinpoint pupils
- fine muscle twitching
- increased bronchial and lacrimal secretions
- skin rashes and irritation
- chemical burns.
It is very important to report any adverse outcomes from agrichemical use to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)
- increased risk of some cancers
- birth defects
- diseases of the lungs, liver or kidneys
- nervous system disorders.
SDS information for agrichemicals
- the registered use of the chemical
- precautions for use
- possible health effects
- safety measures for handling
- contact numbers for further information
- withholding periods – it is the responsibility of the farmers to ensure correct usage and that slaughter or production withholding periods are observed.
Safe storage of agrichemicals
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper storage.
- Keep chemicals in their original containers and do not pour into smaller bottles.
- Do not remove labels from containers.
- Store chemicals in a locked, well-ventilated shed with floors that will contain spills.
- Store chemicals and appropriate personal protective equipment in different locations.
- Store the filter(s) from masks separately to contaminated protective equipment when not in use – for example, in a zip-locked bag or an ice-cream container.
- Do not store liquid chemicals above solids.
- Separate different classes of chemicals to prevent reactions.
- Store animal feeds, seeds and fertilisers separately from other chemicals.
- Have mop-up materials on hand, such as sand, soil or DrySorb.
- Keep ignition sources well away from chemicals.
- Keep a record of the chemicals you buy, store and use.
Safe transport of agrichemicals
- Transport chemicals separately from food, water, animal feeds, seeds and fertilisers. This applies to transport of household and home garden quantities of the chemical, as well as bulk transport.
- Drums of agricultural chemicals should not be transported in enclosed cabins with the driver and passengers.
- Secure your load.
- Carry a written record of the chemicals you are transporting.
- Take all appropriate protective gear along with you.
Safe use of agrichemicals
- Ensure anyone using agricultural chemicals is suitably trained to use both the chemical and any equipment required for application.
- Use chemical decanting kits to reduce the risk of spills and splashes while mixing chemicals.
- Only mix the quantity of chemical required for the task at hand.
- Make sure the decanting and mixing area is well ventilated. If this is not possible, ensure that recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn for enclosed environments.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label.
- Always wear recommended protective clothing such as chemical-resistant gloves, overalls, goggles and appropriate P2 facemasks or a P3 respirator. (Respirator cartridges should provide multi-level gas protection.)
- Avoid exposing non-target animals or plants.
- Triple rinse equipment after chemical application and dispose of the rinse water (rinsate) appropriately. Rinsate contains low concentrations of the chemical from the cleaning process.
Safe disposal procedures for agrichemicals
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper disposal of both chemicals and rinsate from equipment.
- Thoroughly triple rinse and then puncture empty containers to prevent reuse for other purposes.
- Return empty containers to the manufacturer or check with your local council about proper disposal methods.
- Audit your chemical store on a regular basis and dispose of any excess or outdated chemicals in the appropriate manner.