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Six steps to build a farm safe team

by Theresa Whalen
CFA Farm Safety Consultant (585 words)

Most farmers say safety is an important and essential core value in their operations. But building safety
into everyday work plans for themselves, their families and employees is often a different story.
Sometimes it’s tough to know the best way to pass-on the safety ethic. But it can be done in six steps.

The first step is identify work expectations. Write a work procedure for each major job on your farm. In
it, describe job responsibilities and duties, giving specific performance objectives, standards or
requirements for each including safety expectations. This will include describing the quantity and
quality of results with emphasis given to critical behaviours. Be sure that you and the worker each have
a copy of the written job description. Use it for training and annual performance evaluations.

Second, set up to succeed. Successful work has two primary ingredients – the right worker using the
right tools. Select and place workers based on matching their capabilities and competencies with the
job. Ensure they have or get proper task instructions, skill training or coaching as needed and give a full
review of related policies, procedures and practices. Empower workers by giving them knowledge,
responsibilities and authority to succeed at their job. This also means ensuring they have the proper
materials, equipment, resources and environment to do the job effectively and safely.

Third, monitor and measure performance. The best way to monitor and measure performance is through
simple observation that concentrates on objective, measurable, job related factors such as attendance,
accuracy, quantity and quality of work, safety behaviours and other performance requirements. Evaluate
their work and offer both positive comments and areas where improvement is needed. Document your
findings as part of your employment business records.

Fourth, provide performance feedback. Provide on-going feedback to their work in general, pointing out
both problems and progress. Use facts, figures and specific incidents to discuss job performance so as to
avoid getting personal. Ask questions to ensure two-way communications – as they say ‘learn to listen
and listen to learn’. Strive for agreement on how the person is performing and why – and how they can

Fifth, practise workplace coaching. Always set a good example as to how to do things safely. When a
worker’s behaviour needs to be changed to become safer, correct the behaviour through re-instruction,
reminders, reviews, refreshers and reinforcement using a mutual problem-solving approach. Base
rewards on results and performance improvements by giving immediate recognition for desired
(efficient, safe, productive) behaviour. Make a habit of reinforcing positive performance to make
positive performance a habit.

And finally, stimulate continual improvement. Get to know your workers and find out what motivates
them. Demonstrate your concern for their health and well-being, career development, professional
growth and life-long learning. This means giving them the knowledge, tools and support to work safely.
If something goes wrong, help your workers learn from experience by tracing incidents from
consequences back to basic causes. Help them enjoy a safe and productive workplace.

“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