You’ve seen the farm safety folks at the farm trade shows and farm events. They’re the loneliest booths there. And they’re a resource that is very under utilized by farmers.
In a perfect world, safety would be first. But too often it is “safety third” on our farms. While, like emergency planning, safety planning is not mandated, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great idea.
It is easier than ever to write a simple and effective safety plan for your farm. Most provinces and many ag organizations offer great free tools and resources.
This isn’t “big brother.” This is smart, safe farming. If you are a fan of number crunching you could do some research and factor in the following:
- Cost of downtime due to injury.
- Cost of downtime due to equipment breakage.
- Profit loss due to loss of condition on crops or livestock due to downtime.
The investment in a good farm safety plan that could prevent any of those cost factors pays off almost immediately. The great thing about doing a farm safety plan is you can do it on a rainy day, a stormy winter day or during a break at a farm show.
SAFE Work programs
You know your farm better than anyone, and that makes you the best person to assess it. One of the popular acronyms for safety in farming and industry is SAFE Work.
Spot the hazard by identifying dangers that could cause injury or health problems. To be effective the system must enable workers to bring forward concerns about hazards.
Assess the risk associated with each hazard. This will help determine high hazards that require immediate action to correct.
Find a safer way to carry out the task(s) where the hazards have been identified. The best method is to eliminate the hazards. If this isn’t practical, you must control them.
Everyday workers, contractors, suppliers and visitors are valuable sources of information about hazards and risks in the workplace. This information comes from the “SAFE Farms Manitoba Handbook.”
The most important part of a farm safety plan happens after you write it. Using it. Get your workers and family to use it. Ensure it is current and relevant to your farm. When you encourage a culture of safety on your farm, a safety plan is a natural extension of that.
From the Country Guide website: Feds back farm safety training ahead of Ag Safety Week
Some benefits of a farm safety plan:
- Prevention of accidents and injuries.
- Preparedness for severe weather and other events.
- Understanding risk.
- Understanding how to mitigate risk.
- Safeguarding workers, equipment and livestock.
- Increasing worker input into workplace practices.
- Preventing of costly downtime due to breakdowns and injuries.
- Building a culture of safety that can become generational.
- Acknowledging due diligence on the part of workers and owners.
One benefit that you may not have considered is protection from liability in instances where due diligence is called into question. When you can demonstrate your due diligence you have demonstrated you care about both your business and your workers. Ask your local agriculture representatives for more information and cultivate safety on your farm.