Farm Safety – Burning Waste

Most farms or agricultural complexes have a significant amount of materials, commonly referred to as waste, that must be disposed of.

Often this is done by burning it, as this is seen as the most degraded and manageable means of disposal.

It is also a task often given to younger or more inexperienced farm workers. This is because it is seen as a relatively easy task to do and oversee.

It is also seen as giving good experience to more inexperienced farm workers to help them progress in their professional career.

While incinerating waste can be relatively safe, there are a number of risks to consider, which can affect the workers performing the task as well as the wider environment, both on land and in the air, both on the farm itself and in the wider area nearby.

Toxic materials

When incinerating waste, the very specific nature of the material to be destroyed must be taken into account.

This is particularly relevant for all types of toxic materials, including pesticide containers, chemical cleaners and very specific tires.

All of these materials give off extremely toxic fumes when burned and can potentially cause significant health problems for workers attending the process.

These vapors can also spread very quickly to the wider environment, with potential health risks to other family members or people who live or work nearby.

Anyone doing this work should check with their employer which materials may be incinerated and which may not, before starting the process.

Burn times

There are likely to be local laws and regulations that determine when this combustion process can take place, and often where it can happen.

There are likely limits to where combustion can occur, particularly with regard to public roads and railways.

This is regardless of what is burned, as the smoke can be transported very easily and pose a potential risk to road users or railway personnel.

Dispose of fuel

Disposing of all types of liquids, such as fuel, oil and lubricants, can present risks that must be identified and isolated.

There are also likely to be local regulations regarding disposal that must be understood and adhered to. the farmer should also be aware of potential damage to his own land from pollution and how it could affect his current and potential business practices.

Some major sources of fuel that must be disposed of include used oil, oil filters, antifreeze, paint and solvents, air conditioning coolant, spilled or dumped fuel, and empty containers that once contained fuel oil or any type of lubricant.

If material is spilled, it is best to refer to the container label, which should contain detailed instructions on the most appropriate cleaning method.

It may also be necessary to contact local or national authorities in the event of a major spill.

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The disposal of hazardous substances is a real challenge.

Usually the material has a label attached to it that should contain information about the best way to dispose of it.

There are also often local waste disposal schemes, either managed as cooperatives or by local authorities who can either advise on the most appropriate method or have their own collection schemes.

Tire, battery and waste disposal

Most farms have a significant amount of leftover materials containing the above that need to be removed which can be quite difficult.

Often the most appropriate way is to contact the manufacturer or distributor who is likely to collect or dispose of the product themselves or by a contractor.

They will likely charge a fee for this, but it is often the safest way to remove it. Again, the labels should include specific instructions on how best to dispose of these items.

Normal disposal methods often involve some sort of landfill, or possibly burial on some part of the farmland itself. This is not ideal but may be the only option depending on the size of the farm.

With all types of removal of material, solid or liquid, it is important to think about it before removal, and have an appropriate plan rather than how best to remove it, and a plan to deal with any fallout, either by spilling, leaking or accidental burning of prohibited items.