2020-04-01: Farmers need to follow health rules during coronavirus pandemic – The Weekly Times

IN THESE extraordinary times as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the world, agriculture and specifically, agricultural jobs, are essential for agricultural production.

And with governments at all levels tightening restrictions in response to COVID-19, farmers need to remember, despite being isolated, they are not immune to the virus and the flow-on effect of government lockdown restrictions.

That’s why it’s vitally important farmers ensure they embrace prevention measures like hand washing, staying home, and practising physical distancing principles to help stop the spread of the virus.

Already we have had a number of distressed calls from people on hobby farms asking how they access Centrelink, and farmers who are struggling to get their hands on personal protective equipment.

The National Centre for Farmer Health is encouraging farmers to plan ahead and follow these simple tips.

BE prepared for increasing restrictions on travel, movements, and difficulty sourcing staff.

PRACTISE physical distancing with staff and family and ensure shared surfaces and equipment such as utes, tractors and work tools are regularly cleaned. If possible nominate one ­vehicle per person.

MAKE sure there is a place to keep children engaged and safe on the farm during the school holidays. No matter how difficult it is to be a farm parent, think how much harder it would be if a child suffered a serious injury. With current restrictions at hospitals you may not be able to visit.

STAY physically fit, eat well, manage fatigue, and work safely.

CONSIDER methods to reduce the use of supplies, parts, agrichemicals and personal protective equipment that may already be, or become in shorter supply.

THINK about how you will continue to run the farm if you need to rest or self-isolate due to COVID-19 or other illness. And share a list of must-do tasks if you do become unwell, so ­essential farm work can continue.

STAY socially connected but physically distant.

The drought and the effects of bushfires continue to affect rural communities. While many farmers are used to working in isolation, it is more important than ever that they make time to stay connected to their social networks.

With the usual local and district social events no longer possible, take time to connect with family, colleagues and friends by phone or virtually.

Australian farmers are resilient, and, like everything they have dealt with before, from droughts and floods to bushfires, will get through this together. But stay home!

Keep up to date with the latest correct coronavirus information from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services at dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorian-public-coronavirus-disease-covid-19.

Read more on farm fitness: CLICK HERE

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