Last summer we had the opportunity to provide a seminar about farm strategies for safe operations to Egg Farmers of Alberta members. We had a great turnout and the farmers that attended were interested to find out what they could do to improve their farm operations. Attendees might recall that we spoke about the value of a safety program to the overall success of the farm – including safety of the farm family and how safety contributes to the health of the farm business bottom line.
One could argue that the single most important reason for any farm to establish a safety culture would be to protect the children – yours, theirs, all. We reel at the thought of our infants, pre-schoolers, and youth being injured because of living in a rural setting. All farms want to believe that we have some sort of established farm safety system to protect our family, but the question is, why do we stop there? Is it because we believe that formal safety is just too complicated and something that only other industries must do? Do we feel that it just takes too much work to setup for the benefit gained? After all, injuries will only happen to our neighbour. Right?
In agriculture, we know how to grow things and we can apply the same logic to a successful health and safety management program for the farm. During our safety seminar, the group defined the terms ‘hazard’ and ‘risk’ and we can equate these concepts to the seeds of the farm safety management system. Hazard is a situation, condition or behaviour that has the potential to cause injury or loss. Risk is the chance or probability that a person will be harmed or experience adverse health effects if exposed to the hazard.
If you start with these two seeds and plant some understanding about hazard and risk within the scope of your farm operation, you will have the fundamental start to your safety program. Farms will take these two seeds and grow their safety program over time, nurturing and supporting the program to meet the needs of the farm business. Sometimes the program will need pruning and right sizing to make sure that the safety system supports the farm operation in a sustainable manner. Other times, the program will need fertilizer to flourish as the farm expands. The bottom line is this – keep it simple and let it grow.
Over the coming months there will be several opportunities for all famers and producers to attend an introductory session to farm safety. Consider attending one to find out more about how safety can contribute to your farm success. If you can, bring the kids along – yours, theirs and all.