When starting a new job, orientation is a key part of the onboarding process to learn the ropes of the business and become familiar with practices, protocol, rules and regulations. Working on a farm is no different. Formal position descriptions should be developed to define the roles, responsibilities and physical expectations of the job. This not only serves as a new hire training document but also assists the farm with properly managing the workforce.
Farm employees should undergo thorough training to ensure they understand the lay of the land, the animals, the buildings and proper use of equipment. Safety is a crucial component when it comes to farming. Emphasizing the importance of farm safety from the beginning will set the tone of expectations for employees. Well-trained farm workers should know what to look out for, what to avoid and how to seek assistance in case of any danger.
Here are some important safety training tips for new farm employees.
Dress in proper attire
Proper attire on the farm is essential for one’s safety. Farm workers should always wear the right clothing and accessories to protect themselves. For example, sturdy work boots with aggressive soles, a sturdy upper for ankle support and protective toe caps help prevent slips and protect feet from falling objects, powerful animal hooves and natural elements. Gloves and safety goggles protect hands and eyes from chemicals and airborne disease. Clothing should be appropriate for the season with layers during cold weather and performance fabrics that wick away moisture used during warmer months. Clothing should not be loose and hanging, as it may become entangled or hung up on an object or machinery while working.
Get to know the land
Just like office employees should be familiar with every area of the building for emergency procedures, farm employees should know the ins and outs of the acreage. New employees should be given a thorough tour of the property with special attention focused on critical safety items such as confined spaces, manure facilities, machinery and equipment that present a risk of entanglement or entrapment, pens containing bulls and areas that would put an equipment operator at risk. Field entrances for equipment operators should be reviewed for low hanging wires, small culverts that restrict access to certain vehicles and soft shoulders that could cause a roll over.
Complete first aid training
Accidents and unpredictable events happen. Knowing essential first aid techniques can help save someone’s life. First and foremost, having a well-stocked, visible and up to date first aid kit (or two) on the farm is crucial. Even the smallest scrape or cut can become infected from bacteria and dust. It’s also a good idea to always have at least one CPR-certified farm worker onsite in case of a medical emergency. Beyond bandages, make sure all employees know the 24/7 phone number for the Rural Mutual Nurse Hotline. When the injury requires more than a bandage but less than a 911 call, our qualified medical professionals are standing by to provide injured employees with advice on when to seek a higher level of care.
Treat livestock with care and respect
Farm animals should always be well taken care of to ensure their health and safety. It’s important to always remain calm and cautious when working with livestock. Agitated, frightened or mistreated animals can cause unintentional harm to workers and property. Keeping their stalls, grasses and enclosures clean and well-maintained keeps them healthy and happy. Treating animals with respect and fostering an ethical relationship with them will go a long way. Partner new employees with a veteran employee to teach them proper animal handling skills, such as pinch points to avoid when working near the animals.
Properly maintain facilities and equipment
Creating and maintaining a safe farm environment helps keep hazards at bay. A clean and organized working area makes buildings more navigable, decreases safety risks, increases worker efficiency and makes needed materials easier to find. (Note: Keep dangerous materials and equipment out of reach and locked up until they’re needed if children are present on the farm.) Teaching staff members how to properly clean farm machinery, equipment and the barn regularly and thoroughly keeps the farm in good condition. A properly maintained workplace also significantly reduces risks to employees due to equipment breakdown or unsafe situations created by deferred upkeep. It’s also a smart idea to perform systematic checks of any work areas, machines and facilities to make sure they’re operating as intended.
Farm safety is consequential and best practices should be taught from the beginning of employment to prevent mishaps and injuries – or worse. Safety training should be ongoing with regular follow-up to prove that employees have the skills and knowledge to perform their job safely and confidently. If there ever is a workplace crisis, it’s important to be suitably prepared. In addition, a farm worker’s compensation policy protects your workers and your farm from unforeseen circumstances. Contact your Rural Mutual agent for more farm safety tips and to review your farm insurance.
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