Build­ing your farm safety team


It’s no se­cret that a se­ri­ous farm in­jury or fa­tal­ity can be dev­as­tat­ing emo­tion­ally and fi­nan­cially to a farm oper­a­tion and farm fam­ily. But it’s never go­ing to hap­pen to you. Right? Well, ac­cord­ing to Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural In­jury Reporting sta­tis­tics, an aver­age of 104 people die in agri­cul­ture-re­lated in­ci­dents in Canada ev­ery year. Al­most half of all agri­cul­tural fa­tal­i­ties in Canada in­volve farm own­ers and oper­a­tors.

That means a lit­tle more than half hap­pen to other people work­ing, liv­ing, or vis­it­ing the farm. So what can you do to pre- vent these in­juries? Well— noth­ing’s for sure but if you build a cul­ture of safety on your farm and en­cour­age your fam­ily and farm em­ploy­ees to get in­volved, you can help re­duce the risk of in­jury while grow­ing your busi- ness and en­gag­ing your work­force.

Make sure to start out on the right safety foot with new em­ploy­ees. Be­fore they set foot on your oper­a­tion, make cer­tain they un­der­stand that health and safety is your pri­or­ity. Com­mu­ni­cate safety poli­cies and stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures. Be­fore your new em­ploy­ees be­gin work, re­view job de­scrip­tions to en­sure they have a clear un­der­stand­ing of their roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties when it comes to work and safety.

De­ter­mine what train­ing each em­ployee re­quires based on their spe­cific job du­ties and en­sure they re­ceive that train­ing. Mon­i­tor their per­for­mance and pro­vide feed­back and coach­ing in a pos­i­tive way un­til you are sure they are able to do their work safely. If in spite of mul­ti­ple cor­rec­tive ac­tions, an em­ployee continues to en­gage in risky be­hav­iour, don’t be afraid to let them go. Ul­ti­mately you need to pro­tect your other work­ers, and yourself.

If an em­ployee doesn’t feel com­fort­able bring­ing up a safety is­sue, you might not know there is a prob­lem un­til it is too late. Get em­ploy­ees in­volved in safety by con­duct­ing reg­u­lar safety meet­ings. En­cour­age feed­back by im­ple­ment­ing clear haz­ard reporting pro­ce­dures.

Let em­ploy­ees know about any changes on your farm so they are not caught off guard and can pre­pare for new sit­u­a­tions that could pose risks or haz­ards on the farm.

Lastly, stay pos­i­tive. If you care about your em­ploy­ees and demon­strate that by ex­press­ing con­cern for their well- be­ing, they will re­spect you as an em­ployer and strive to work safely.

Lead by ex­am­ple and try to make safety fun, with lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties to get in­volved and ask ques­tions.

If you treat safety like a chore, they might lose in­ter­est and sim­ply dis­en­gage.

While ev­ery farm is dif­fer­ent, the need for a safe work en­vi­ron­ment is uni­ver­sal, so cul­ti­vate an open, pos­i­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship with your em­ploy­ees based on com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trust and you will be well on your way to build­ing a suc­cess­ful farm safety team.

For more in­for­ma­tion on build­ing a farm safety team, visit agsafe­ty­­duc­er­tools and browse through over 20 free re­sources de­signed to help pro­duc­ers make their farms safer. This ar­ti­cle was pro­duced in sup­port of the Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural Safety Week 2014 Let’s Talk About It! cam­paign, which en­cour­ages farm­ers to en­gage in con­ver­sa­tions about safety.

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