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Follow the golden rules of farm safety

by Theresa Whalen
CFA Farm Safety Consultant (495 words)

You’ve set out the safety plan for your farm. Now – how do you get the work team to use it? Farm operations that are successful in motivating compliance with farm safety rules pay careful attention to: preparation, presentation, reinforcement, enforcement and leadership by example.

First – re-open the rule sheet. Preparation of farm safety rules should involve employee input – if they help create the rules, they are far more likely to follow them. Rules should be kept to a minimum and be as practical as possible. Give reasons for the rules to help with understanding. Post the rules in a highly visible place as a frequent reminder to all. Use the ‘KISS’ principle – Keep It Short and Simple!

Presentation of farm safety rules is most effective when given from a few different angles. For example, give each worker a written copy of your farm safety rules AND post the rules is a highly visible place AND talk with workers as you walk around the farm to discuss the practical applications of the safety rules. Be sure to get feedback and ask questions to ensure workers understand the information. Upon completion, document the training experience and have each employee sign off their review of the safety rules.

Reinforcement of farm safety rules can be done in a variety of ways. Host regular ‘toolbox talks’ to informally review safety practices. Emphasize safety when giving instructions for the day’s work. Reward good safety practices with positive recognition to workers for a job well done. Do a full review of safety procedures with employees at least once a year.

Enforcement of rules should be firm, fair and friendly. The traditional form of disciplinary action is a four-step process of verbal warning, written warning, suspension, and finally termination. Written documentation of this process is the only way employers can prove they tried to enforce safety rules in a reasonable way. It is extremely important that appropriate corrective action be taken whenever rules are violated – not just when an incident happens. The idea is that people’s behaviour should be corrected and returned to compliance in a consistent manner, whenever there is a violation, not just for having an incident.

Leadership example is one of the most powerful ways of motivating farm safety. When the employer ‘walks the talk’ and demonstrates that the safe way is the only way to work – then employees will do so as well. Safety then becomes a natural part of doing each and every job on the farm.

“Plan • Farm • Safety” is the three-year theme of the Canadian Agricultural Safety campaign, which was launched in March. Each aspect of the theme will be promoted over the next three years.

In 2010 the campaign promotes “Plan” with safety walkabouts and planning for safety. In the second year, the focus will be on “Farm” including implementation, documentation and training. In the third year, emphasis will be on “Safety” including assessment, improvement and further development of safety systems. For more information on this and other farm safety topics visit www.planfarmsafety.ca.

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For more information contact:
Theresa Whalen, CFA Farm Safety Consultant – T: (613) 822-0016 E: farmsafety@cfafca.ca
** Free photos and cartoons are available to accompany this article at www.planfarmsafety.ca.
For more farm safety articles visit: http://communitycontent.ca/en