The farm isn’t a dangerous place to work per se, but it can be if you’re not careful. A sobering 6,000 on-farm fatalities have occurred in the past decade alone. Jeff Lutz, safety director for Washington Farm Bureau, offers up a few best practices to ensure you’re making health and safety a priority in your operation.
1. Assure management’s commitment to safety and health. "Do you provide the necessary – and correct tools?" Lutz inquires. In other words, focus on making sure that each employee is working to the best of their ability.
2. Assure policies and procedures are written down, spelled out and consistently applied. "It’s not enough just to have the policies and procedures in place," Lutz says. "Everyone needs to know about them and know that they will be enforced." For example, don’t ask an employee if he or she knows how to drive a tractor, have them show you, he says.
3. Use repetition to manage people well. Human resources can be a difficult aspect of your job, Lutz admits, especially once you realize that adults retain only about 20% of what’s told to them in training. "As a manager, if you remember that only 20% of what you are teaching during safety and health training is going to get through, you’ll remember it’s necessary to repeat the lessons with remedial training and follow up four more times.
4. Assure competency in supervisors. "Many managers rise up through the ranks and lack training on how to manager," Lutz says. "Prevent this by providing management training as employees advance, and be sure to follow up and review their training just like everyone else."
5. Follow up and review. (And follow up again.) "Follow up and review is where the rubber meets the road," Lutz says. You will demonstrate your commitment to workplace safety if you write down policies and procedures, adhere to them and follow up on a regular basis.
Above all, be firm, fair and consistent with how you handle safety and health in your business, Lutz says.