In safety terms, competency is a combination of training, knowledge, and experience. In industries like construction, developing competency is fairly straightforward — an employer provides structured training, makes sure their employees pass tests and keep records of experience using resumés.
On the farm, competency is just as important.
A person is competent if they possess a combination of training, knowledge and experience. It’s up to the employer (on the farm, this is usually the primary farm operator) to determine if those who work on the farm are competent. This is applicable to hired help, young workers, family members or anyone else performing farm tasks.
Everyone has different amounts of training, knowledge, and experience. Keep this in mind when determining and building competency in the workers on your farm.
Training: All training should be provided by a credible trainer, and should be relevant to the tasks the trainee will be undertaking. Supplying information and materials that can be referred to after the training is also essential. Training doesn’t just stop after the initial course. A refresher at the start of the season or after an absence is a good idea. (Training may also need to be re-evaluated at regular intervals or in the event of an incident.)
Knowledge: There should be a documented test of knowledge that goes along with the training. The trainee must demonstrate good understanding and knowledge.
Experience: Remember, everyone has a different background and experience level. Different tasks may require more experience than others. It is up to an employer or supervisor to know a person’s experience level and assign tasks accordingly.
The combination of training, knowledge and experience is what makes a person competent. Having all the knowledge in the world doesn’t replace training or experience. Just because a person is experienced, doesn’t mean they don’t need training. And training itself doesn’t replace experience.
Making sure that everyone who works on the farm is competent goes a long way in making sure everyone stays safe. For more information about farm safety, visit casa-acsa.ca.