Dakota State University -- NDSU Agriculture
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo ND, 58105-5655, Tel: 701-231-7881, Fax: 701-231-7044
The Rewards are Priceless for Farm Safety Efforts
This is the planning season for agricultural producers. Spring plans are being made for machine use, crop variety selection, fertilizer use, crop chemical selection and land use. A farm safety specialist at North Dakota State University urges producers to include safety management in their planning
"Including safety in the farm plans can certainly help bring other plans to reality," says George Maher of the NDSU Extension Service. "There should be a safety management plan in place if farm safety is to be accepted as a serious issue. Farm safety doesn’t just happen, it has to be planned and it has to be proactive."
Maher points out that there are no jobs on a farm where the worker is the only one who needs to be knowledgeable about what’s going on. Similarly, the family that works together should plan for safety together. "When an accident happens and an injury results, everyone will be affected, so the family needs to plan and execute safety management together," Maher says.
The safety management plan should include:
"Every hazardous job should be explained and discussed so everyone has some understanding of the safety concerns for that particular work," Maher says.
Assigning age appropriate tasks is an important part of farm safety planning. "Nearly everyone who is capable of working usually helps on most family farms," Maher says. "But some jobs are too demanding for certain individuals of a certain age, young or old. When work is assigned, age, as well as physical and emotional maturity, must be considered."
If all of the family is to be capable and responsible for farm safety, there must be safety training. "Training in CPR and first aid is definitely age appropriate, but start as soon as possible. When family members know that everyone mature enough can give first aid or CPR if needed, they are likely to feel more secure working on the farm," Maher says. "Attending a CPR or first aid class together would be an excellent family activity to do as a family unit."
Safe farms have safety policies, he adds. It will be a safer farm when youngsters knows they are not permitted in particular buildings or areas because of certain hazards. "Decisions need to be made and followed in regard to who can operate particular machines, who can do which chores, and who can go in certain buildings or areas. There will be more peace of mind when parents know their youngsters are safety smart," Maher says.
There should be at least one farm safety inspection every year on the safe family farm. Those inspections should involve everyone on the farm, Maher stresses. Ideally, there should be a safety inspection tour before each major farm season begins. Inspect tillage, fertilizing and planting equipment before tillage and planting season starts; chemical application equipment and procedures before spraying season; mowing and baling equipment before haying season; and all harvest equipment and procedures before that season starts. "The farm that operates by allowing one season to blend or blur into the next, without taking real time for safety concerns is more likely to have a higher injury rate," he says.
If farm safety tours are to be useful and effective, there should always be a followup to the tours. Use safety checklists with machinery and farm procedures, and keep records of safety inspections and safety training. "You can't remember everything all the time, but if it is on paper, you’ll have a record to help you," he says.