A sprayer is of no use if it is continually breaking down or in a state of disrepair.

The same can be said for the person who operates the sprayer.

Valuable orchard crops need both man and machine to be in good working order.

This article deals with two often neglected areas: safety of the operator during the spray operation and maintenance of the sprayer.

Operator safety includes not only the responsibility to one's self to handle chemicals safely, but also the responsibility of each of us to ensure that we do not endanger the health of others.

Pesticide Poisoning

Pesticide poisoning can happen in three ways:
• Through the skin;
• By breathing it in;
• By accidental swallowing.

Poisoning can occur immediately or, more seriously, may occur over a period of time through the accumulation of a sufficient quantity.

Danger signs to look for are blurred vision, headache, nausea and chest pains.

More serious symptoms are sweating, pinpoint pupils of the eyes, drooling and vomiting.

If pesticide poisoning occurs:
• Remove contaminated clothing;
• Wash contaminated area;
• Take the sufferer immediately to a doctor;
• Do not allow the sufferer to drive.

• Keep the storage area locked and child proof.
• Keep chemicals in the original containers if possible.
• Discard leaky or broken containers in a safe manner.
• Be careful to avoid exposure to dangerous vapours.

Mixing chemicals is the most dangerous time in the spray operation as it involves handling the concentrated material.

Follow these precautions:
• Read the label carefully.
• Use protective clothing (overalls, gloves, hat, boots and respirator).
• Rinse the container into the spray tank three times. This can save wastage of significant quantities of pesticide.
• Never eat, drink or smoke while handling pesticides.
• Do not use matches near pesticides.
• In the event of spillage confine the spill.

Soak up liquid spills with absorbent material such as sand or sawdust. Place in a container and bury.

Full protective clothing should be worn during the spray operation even if spray cabs are used.

Air conditioned cabs are useful in providing a cool environment in which to wear protective clothing under hot spraying conditions.

Filtering devices are becoming available from manufacturers.

Monitoring devices indicate when the filters are due for replacement and when air pressure falls within cabs.

It is also a good idea to keep a bucket, clean water, soap and towel near the mixing area and on the spray rig in case of emergency.

Regular maintenance of components should be carried out before or after each spray operation. The following list contains some important checks that should be made.

• Check the operation of the pump and oil level if necessary.
• Check the tank and hoses for corrosion or cracks. Replace if necessary.
• Clean all filters after each spray operation. Make sure each nozzle has its correct-sized nozzle filter.
• Check the operation of the pressure gauge. It is a good idea to keep a spare gauge available to check existing gauge and replace if necessary.
• Ensure the agitation system is working properly. This is very important where concentrated spray solutions of wettable powders are used.
• Check the performance of the nozzles. Replace any cracked or worn nozzles immediately. Clean the nozzles with water, a toothpick or a small brush only.
• After spraying, dispose of any remaining chemical safely. Do not keep chemical overnight. Fill the spray tank with clean water and flush lines and nozzles.

Extract from Qld. Fruit & Veg. News

DATE: January 1987

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