The beginning of a new season is a great opportunity to improve safety on the farm by developing and implementing a safety management system.
Farmers can benefit significantly from working safely. Injuries can be devastating on a personal, family, and farm level. Regardless of who is injured – the primary farmer, a family member, a child, a visitor or a worker – injuries cost dollars, productivity, and above all else, heartache.
There are three main components of developing and implementing a safety management system for any farming operation.
First, there is the “Safety” component. This means identifying, communicating, and controlling hazards on the farm, creating safe work procedures for hazardous tasks, and training workers. By addressing hazards, creating safe work procedures and implementing a training system, family, workers and visitors will be less likely to be injured.
Second, the “Maintenance” component. This means making sure machinery, equipment, buildings, tools, roads/approaches are inspected, repaired, and in overall good maintenance. An often-overlooked part of implementing a safety management system is the creation of an inspection and maintenance schedule. Regular inspections (and in some cases, before each use) and maintenance that follow best practices and manufacturer recommendations improve safety and productivity.
Third, the safety “Compliance” component. In most provinces, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Officers have the right to enter and inspect farms without prior notice. A non-compliance issue could result in an improvement order, stop-work order, or even fines in some cases. Work activity is not allowed to continue until the issue is corrected and the order is lifted. Keeping in mind compliance when developing and implementing a safety management system can save both time and money in the long run.
It’s not “free” to develop a safety management system. It does cost time, effort and in some cases, money to make sure that safety, maintenance and compliance are all addressed. However, the cost is more than made up through less injuries, better productivity and more profit. This new year, give yourself, your farm, your family, and your workers the gift of a safe and productive farming operation.
Article written by the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, with edits by Elite Agri Solutions.