Farm Safety: Is your attitude a barrier to a safe farm?

I can’t.” “I don’t want to.” “You can’t make me.” If this came from a child talking about a math problem or a chore, adults would accuse that child of having a negative attitude. But children are not the only ones that can suffer from a negative attitude. Could a negative attitude be preventing you from having a safe farm?

Having a safe farm is a priority for almost all farmers. But is this just all talk? According to an survey conducted by Farm Credit Canada, 75 per cent of farmers feel the work on their operation is done safely most of the time, however more than 40 per cent of the same respondents have reported a personal injury, family member injury or employee injury on their operation. If most work is being done safely, why are people still getting hurt?

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Time, money, old habits. These are common responses when asked what obstacles to improving safety are. However, a negative attitude towards safety can impact job performance and increases the chance of getting injured. One of the biggest negative attitudes when it comes to safety is “accidents happen,” or “it was a freak tragedy.” These statements are simply untrue.

Recognizing that accidents are not only predictable but preventable is the first step in having a good attitude around safety and injury prevention. It might be uncomfortable or time consuming to think about safety and injury prevention, but those inconveniences are minor when it comes to preventing an injury or even a fatality.

When it comes to day-to-day attitudes, first, avoid becoming fatigued or overly hungry or thirsty. No human does their best under these conditions. Being tired can slow down your reaction time and can influence your decision-making skills. Being hungry, well, that can just make you irritable, easily annoyed and even reckless. Addressing basic needs like rest, food and drink can go a long way in maintaining a good attitude.

Complacency is nother negative attitude that can affect your farm and your safety. After performing a job many times without a problem, you may believe you’re experienced enough to skip steps. That’s exactly when an injury can happen. It’s important to follow your established safety procedures each and every time you perform a task.

Emotions are good and normal. It’s OK to be upset or angry at a situation. But it’s not OK if you let those emotions get in the way of performing your task correctly. Being angry or upset can lead people into being reckless or in making hasty decisions. Take the time to calm down, or to figure out a solution before performing your task. Sometimes, a task can be frustrating. We’ve all been in the position where, no matter what you do, nothing you do seems to go right. This can be annoying, frustrating and infuriating! Walk away, calm down and then restart. This goes for everything from fixing machinery to sorting calves. Take a moment (it doesn’t have to be hours) to take a few deep breaths. Regroup. And restart.

Lastly, ask for help! You aren’t in this life alone. Many people including agri-retailers, medical professionals, family members, neighbours and friends are there for you. We all need help sometimes. It can be as simple as asking for clarification on a new crop protection product from your local ag rep or as complex as dealing with a health crisis. Not knowing, or feeling overwhelmed is totally OK, just ask for help when you need it.

Maintaining a positive attitude will help reinforce the importance of doing farm work safely. Having a good attitude about farm safety costs no dollars, but it is an investment in time and in thinking and that investment can pay off in spades in having an injury-free farm.

About the author

Contributor

As a national, non-profit organization, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) promotes farm safety in the agricultural sector.

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