The New Year brings with it talk of resolutions. Resolutions; however, have a reputation for being declared and then forgotten. This year, why not make a promise that involves your family and their future? Make a promise to create a safer work environment on your farming operation.
“Chances are you include an element of safety on your farm already,” says Kenda Lubeck, farm safety co-ordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “Working with powerful equipment, large animals and strong chemicals year after year requires some degree of safety knowledge and standards. But, there is always room for improvement. From big-picture items such as a comprehensive farm safety plan to details like putting tools in their rightful spot and securing all gates, the cycle of plan-do-check-act never ends.”
In true safety style, here are a few items to consider in the New Year.
General farm yard safety
- Get rid of clutter and stay organized. Throw away stuff you don’t need or use.
- Properly store tools, equipment and paperwork to eliminate tripping hazards.
- Fix anything that’s broken or needs extra attention.
- Check condition of items such as ladders, electrical cords, and tools.
- Make sure workers have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) such as goggles, gloves, hearing protections, respirators, etc.
- Check all extinguishers, smoke detectors, shutoff switches and eye wash stations.
- Post first-aid kits, emergency contact numbers, maps and fire extinguishers.
- Make sure all workers are familiar with your farm’s emergency plan and know where the designated meeting place is. (You do have an emergency plan, don’t you?).
- Get cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid training.
Chemicals and pesticides
- Take an inventory of all chemicals, pesticides, and medical products on the farm.
- Properly dispose of any chemicals that are no longer being used or medical products that have expired.
- Make sure Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are available for each chemical and are stored in a central location that is accessible to all employees.
- Ensure that all hazardous substances are properly stored and that all containers are labeled.
- Make sure all workers have Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training as necessary.
Machinery and PTO
- Inspect shields and guards on equipment — look for damage.
- Ensure proper lighting and marking on all machinery, such as slow-moving vehicle symbols.
- Make any necessary repairs and replace broken or damaged shields or parts.
- Lubricate PTO shields to keep them rotating freely.
- Ensure that all workers wear close-fitting clothing, keep long hair tied back, use proper PPE and observe safe practices while operating equipment.
Large animal handling safety
- Ensure all gates, fencing and handling systems are in good repair and working order.
- Train all animals to encourage calm working sessions.
- Wear an approved equestrian helmet when mounted on a horse.
- Design a biosecurity plan for your farm to prevent cross-contamination of diseases.
- Have calving and foaling plans in place to prevent injuries to humans and baby animals.
“Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development is in the process of piloting the Alberta FarmSafe Plan,” adds Lubeck. “This is an interactive farm safety plan tailored to individual farming operations. There are a few spots left, so if you are interested in signing up, contact Laurel Aitken at 780-480-4320.”