Milking dangers high on agenda

There is a strong relationship between personal health and well-being, animal safety and managing cleaning products so they are used safely when discussing milk quality. The potential danger to the operator and the potential risk to many others if chemical cleaning products are used incorrectly or not at all is very serious and must not be overlooked.

Often operators can be working long hours in the milking parlour so tiredness or a rush to finish up milking and washing so another can be started are very real concerns. This is why taking your time and doing the job properly the first time is the best advice.

One way to manage tiredness is to try to get help so the milking burden is shared. Allocate a certain number of milkings per week to another person on a set basis (not ad-hoc). This ensures you give 100{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1} focus when you are on duty and it frees up thinking time or physical time to allow you do other work.

Bringing staff into a new work situation creates a whole new set of risks. One way farmers manage this is to have clear written down instruction on washing procedures, infected cows, or treatment procedures. These rules can be written on a white board in the dairy or on a plastered wall.

Most accidents in the parlour happen in the spring when farmers are tired as they have fresh calving cows and milking times are longer as yields are higher in early lactation. An attempt should always be made at the start of the year (around now) to make safety a priority in terms of proper footwear for operators in the parlour and to ensure proper underfoot conditions so that areas that are taking most of the footfall are clean and safe to walk on.

Underfoot conditions

In many milking parlours underfoot conditions are so slippy that you have to watch your every move. While some rubber surfaces or mesh underfoot materials can help improve comfort, they can often become slippy or turn up at the corners or at joining sections and this can very easily lead to you tripping when you least expect it. Sort out all the basics now before the calving season gets under way in earnest.

During the washing procedure, operators use very hot water, very dangerous chemicals and often sprays that can be blown into your face, so it is essential to wear the proper clothes and gloves to limit the exposure of the skin of the operator. Heavy-duty black or green gloves or else skintight lighter gloves are almost essential for all good operators to protect naked skin from hot water and chemicals.

For a proper wash routine, hot water needs to be at 80°C. This means it is too hot to handle pipes or expose your skin to the water. Many good operators will have a temperature gauge near the hot water inlet tap to take the guesswork out or remove the need for you to put your hand under the water to test how hot it is.

Chemicals used during the washing procedure need to be clearly labelled and all have regulatory numbers on the label (PCS numbers). This ensures the product has undergone Department testing and if used correctly no chemical residues are entering the food chain. I have visited some farms where the label on containers has been removed before it arrives on farm for some reason or another and there are also some sales representatives trading product that hasn’t gone through the proper Department listing.

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