When a farm emergency happens, knowing what to do and having what you need to do it — could mean the difference between life and death.
To help you be prepared for farm emergencies, a new farm management tool called the Canada FarmSafe Plan has been developed by the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association. As part of this free resource, a Farm Emergency Preparedness Plan template is available for you to adapt to your operation. Download the core Canada FarmSafe Plan at www.planfarmsafety.ca.
The Canada FarmSafe Plan initiative supports the theme Plan • Farm • Safety, a three-year focus for the Canadian agricultural safety campaign. In 2010, the campaign promoted “Plan” with safety walkabouts and planning for safety. This year, the focus is on “Farm” including implementation, documentation and training. And in 2012, emphasis will be on “Safety” including assessment, improvement and further development of safety systems.
“The true value of emergency preparedness isn’t always apparent until you need it. Developing a plan about emergency processes and responsibilities will reduce confusion and mistakes — possibly saving someone’s life,” says Ron Bonnett, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. “That’s why we are being proactive in encouraging producers to develop a business-risk management strategy that includes emergency preparedness as part of an overall health and safety plan for their operations.”
There are four basic components of an emergency plan.
- Post important information where it may be needed around the farm. For example, next to each phone post farm location details; emergency support phone numbers; information about how many people typically work on the farm and the locations of emergency supplies such as first aid kits, spill kits and fire extinguishers.
It is important to have this information readily available as it could be a young family member or visitor who calls for emergency assistance or has to take action.
- List all the possible emergency situations that might occur on your operation. These may include a chemical spill, machinery or livestock injury, fire, explosion, and so on. Write out an action plan for each potential incident, clearly noting what will need to be done and how to do it.
For example, ensure everyone knows how to shut off machinery and power sources as well as a general understanding of how most of the farm processes occur. Remember, emergency responders may not be familiar with your type of farming operation and equipment, therefore having someone available to explain processes will make the responder’s work more efficient.
- Have workers trained in basic first aid and CPR, as well as specific procedures for dealing with the potential incidents you listed in step two. Ensure all resources needed to respond to an emergency situation are readily available and functioning such as first aid kits, eyewash stations, fire extinguishers and spill kits.
- Create a communication system for people working alone. This may include ensuring they have two-way radios or cellphones as well as arranging to regularly go and physically check the worksite throughout the day. This way, if help is needed, it may be summoned more quickly.
“It only takes a short time to prepare for emergencies, yet it can prevent a lifetime of regret,” says Bonnett.