It’s spring. Time to get all your equipment and tools in shape for the intense and risky season ahead. You probably have them ready to go already. But did you check out the one that just might be the most important risk management tool of all? It’s the tool you’ll use to protect your farm business, to protect yourself, your employees and your family from physical, mental and financial harm. It’s a farm safety plan.
Think of it as the essential tool to help document how you intend to control everyone’s exposure to workplace risk. Once you get the hang of it, you won’t be able to work without it. It’s a tool you will use constantly once you put it in your box.
There’s no one correct way to craft your safety plan. But you need to start with a clear assessment of the hazards for everyone working and living on your farm. Start small and work up to a complete inventory. There are lots of suggested checklists available on line. For a list of Canadian risk assessment lists by province, check out www.casa-acsa.ca/english/res_caswmedia.html.
But making a list is just the beginning. Now you need set pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and prepare documents outlining the STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES (SOPs) you will develop to detail how work should be done on your farm, taking into consideration the health and safety hazards associated with that work.
Once you’ve done the SOPs, you have to share them with everyone involved in your operation. Schedule regular meetings with your employees and family. And don’t assume they know what you know about how to safely operate your production equipment, apply inputs or care for animals. Teach. Train. Test. And listen. It’s possible one or more of them might be able to teach you something, too! And don’t be put off by the term SOPs. Call them whatever you want but do them right. For an example of a comprehensive guide to writing effective SOPs, go to: www.bqa. wsu.edu/states/wa/documentsguidetowritingsopsforbqa2008.pdf. You’ll see the guide is written for beef producers, but if that’s not your business, you’ll still get the drift.
And now you need to put your plan into action. Put it to work. Still skeptical? Then check out a new video featuring farmers from across Canada who use their safety plan tool in their business every day. The video is called PLAN. FARM. SAFETY. and it was produced for the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association by cause and effect communications with support from Farm Credit Canada. Find it at: www.casa-acsa.ca/english/res_video.html. If you’d like a DVD copy to use in your community, email CASA at [email protected]