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It’s Time To Plan. Farm. Safety.

You should plan safety on the farm all year round but spread the word this week — March 13 through 19 — Canadian Agricultural Safety Week. The national theme is PLAN. FARM. SAFETY. Manage the risk. Control the hazard.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) and Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) deliver Ag Safety Week in partnership with long-time sponsors Farm Credit Canada (FCC) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

So right now is a perfect time to become even more proactive about safety on your farm.

The first thing to do is think really carefully about what being safe and working safely on the farm means to you. What do you need to put in place to achieve that goal? Map out your plan. Figure out how you’ll know you’ve reached your goal.

You can do it. Remember — you can manage a safety risk the same way you manage an economic risk. Assess. Manage. Measure.

Here’s how to get started: Do some research about farm safety. Begin with www.planfarmsafety.ca and follow some of the links to see how farmers and safety organizations in other parts of the country and the world manage safety risks in their operations.

Then talk it over with your family and brainstorm. It shouldn’t take you long to come up with a brief statement covering your commitment and your responsibilities for providing a safe workplace. Also include how you see everyone else in the operation being involved in sharing that taking responsibility.

Think of that statement as the cornerstone on which you can build a truly meaningful and worthwhile farm safety plan.

Now you need to develop and write down a process for recognizing risks to safety and health on the job. Figure out how you will identify a hazard. It may seem way too complicated but actually this step will save you time and make the job a lot more efficient.

You’re looking for anything that could pose a threat to health or well-being on your farm. Look at physical, chemical, biological, environmental, ergonomic and psychological/sociological conditions that could harm people on your farm. Name the person who will do the inspections, how often will they occur and how you’ll control the hazard.

There are many farm safety checklists to use as a guide. Look at www.casa-acsa.ca/english/CASW2010/Farm% 20Safety%20checklistsE.doc There’s a great collection of provincial guides for noting and assessing safety hazards.

But you’re not done yet. Back to the desk to write out how you plan to control the identified hazards. It all begins with an SOP — a standard operating procedure. An SOP is your quality assurance tool for letting everyone know exactly what’s expected in terms of tasks and safety procedures. You create and share an SOP and you’ve totally eliminated the “you never told me” statement in case of a system failure.

And despite your best-laid plans, there could be. An emergency procedure must also be part of your plan. Ensure everyone understands the potential of an incident occurring, knows whom to contact and what resources are immediately available.

And you can’t keep this great plan to yourself. It’s your job to set up a process to make sure work is consistently done safely and correctly. That means you have to provide training and keep records.

Now don’t get stressed out thinking about what you need to do. This process will actually reduce your stress — in the long run. Just remember that personal well-being influences workplace safety and health — yours and everyone else’s on the farm. Write down what you’ll do in your operation to promote wellness.

You can do it. PLAN. FARM. SAFETY.

CASA www.planfarmsafety.ca

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