sound safety and health program is an effective way to manage
risks, much like an irrigation program or weed control program
is to crop production. Accidents are costly. Estimated costs
for agriculture-related accidents can range from $58,000 to
$87,000 per disabling injury. A safety and health program
can be simple and should be tailored to your specific operation.
Whether you have five, 10, or 100 employees, the information
that follows will help you to develop an effective farm or
ranch safety and health program. A safety and health plan
needs to include at least these items as part of an accident
prevention program. Make these items available to your workers
in a location such as the farm shop or display on a bulletin
and health policy statement.
director's name and phone number.
keeping system to report safety and health issues.
training on safety and health awareness for employees.
inspection of work areas.
workers of safety items required by law.
for emergency preparedness.
locating emergency equipment and supplies.
A written policy statement is an effective way to communicate
a commitment to farm or ranch worker safety and health. The
policy statement need not be elaborate; a paragraph or two should
be sufficient. This document is also looked upon favorably by
insurance companies, regulators, and others should an accident
occur. Your safety and health policy should include some of
the elements listed below.
overall goal of your policy.
statement indicating your commitment to making employee
safety and health your highest priority.
employees to follow all safety rules and to report all injuries
to their supervisor.
that employees immediately bring all unsafe working conditions
or equipment to the attention of the supervisor.
employees that safety will be reviewed periodically.
employees to offer solutions for safety problems or concerns.
and health policy should be posted where employees will see
it. Individual policies should be signed by the employee. See
the sample Safety Health Policy on the next page.
__________________ (name of farm, ranch, or company) recognizes
the value of the individual employee. The safety and health
of our employees is our highest priority. We will make every
effort to provide safe and healthful working conditions at all
times. Employees are required to follow all company safety rules.
Unsafe working conditions, unsafe practices, or machines that
are unsafe to operate must be reported to supervisors immediately.
Employees also must report to their supervisors any injuries
that occur at the workplace. __________________ (name of farm,
ranch, or company) intends to comply with all safety laws and
regulations. Safety issues will be reviewed regularly with our
employees. _________________ (name, title) is responsible for
having periodic safety meetings, providing safety and health
inspections, and making sure that ______________ (employee's
name) has a healthful and safe working environment. I have read
and understand the safety policy. Employee ___________________
Date _________ Safety Director/Supervisor_________________ Date___________
Basic and specialized safety rules need to be developed for all employees. Here are sample rules for a farm or ranch workplace. You may wish to change rules to suit the nature of your operation. Just remember that rules are less likely to be effective if the list is long. They must be simple, easy to understand, and be in a language known to the worker (e.g., Spanish, English, Thai, etc.). Post your safety rules in highly visible locations to serve as a continuing reminder to employees.
must be responsible for the safety program. It can be
the owner, manager, or a reliable supervisor or worker.
This person should help establish a budget to ensure that
the program not only meets regulatory requirements, but
also effectively addresses all the hazards of an operation.
Employee responsibilities for safety and health should
be reviewed periodically. It is a good idea to post the "responsibilities list" in an area where it can serve
as a regular reminder to all workers.
will follow company rules.
qualified personnel are allowed to operate machinery or
chemicals only if properly instructed, and under the direction
of a supervisor.
extra riders are permitted on any motorized equipment.
no "horseplay" in work areas.
no use of alcohol or drugs in the work area.
all appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., respirator,
gloves, goggles), as instructed by the supervisor.
injuries and property damage accidents must be promptly
reported to your supervisor.
questions if you do not understand the task you are responsible
for not following safety rules must be stated. These can
range from verbal warnings to suspension to work termination.
must be kept of all training programs and accidents that have
occurred. Have employees sign log sheets indicating the training
received and date it. Accidents should be investigated and causes
of the accident recorded as well as all circumstances surrounding
it. Keep records of hazards identified and if and when they
were corrected. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all materials
need to be kept in a central location and available to all employees.
Also, make sure you have an adequate number of first aid kits
and that workers know where to find them.
periodic training. Even short programs are effective. Employees
should be trained at least quarterly or by season. Maintain
records of all training activity. Training should begin with
new hires or when responsibilities change. Training may also
be required when injuries or "close calls" warrant additional
training for employees. It must be timely and thorough. Use
the following guidelines for designing and conducting employee
training programs. These should be modified for your particular
operation. Remember to tell employees what they are doing right
during the training.
employee qualifications and experience, particularly in
machinery operation. Do not just take their word for it.
new employees should receive proper job instruction and
safety training for their particular job responsibilities.
List minimum competencies and have employees demonstrate
employees should attend a safety training session at least
once a year.
(15 to 30 minutes) weekly training sessions, called "tailgate"
meetings, have proven to be effective and can be used to
discuss new topics and review safety concerns of the past
safety committee can be effective when there is a large
number of employees. This committee should include representatives
of workers, supervisors, and management.
how and why you want a job done a particular way.
demonstrate how to do the job properly and safely.
certain that the employee understands the importance of
their job as well as all hazards associated with it.
leaving new workers on their own, make sure that they can
perform their job properly and safely. Stay until you are
certain they are doing the job correctly.
frequent checks on new workers. Don't "hover" over them.
If there are problems with employee performance, repeat
the demonstration of correct work procedure. Positive reinforcement
is more effective than negative criticism.
GOOD SUPERVISION IS THE KEY TO SAFETY. NEVER LEAVE TRAINING
inspection of work areas reduces and often eliminates potential
hazards. Assign individuals-safety director or a member of
a safety committee-to inspect work areas on a regular basis.
items need to be inspected on a daily basis:
Equipment guards and shields
Personal protective equipment
Power tools, cords, and extension cords
Materials handling equipment
inspections need to be carried out on the following:
First aid and emergency equipment
Wiring, lighting, and electrical boxes
Equipment storage and shop arrangement
Pesticide storage and disposal
Emergency water supplies
In addition to regular inspections, employees need to be responsible
for maintaining a safe, tidy workplace. Employees should be
encouraged to let management know of unsafe or hazardous situations.
items should be posted as required by law. Posters are available
on Worker Protection Standards and other laws that can be
placed in a common area. Also, items such as MSDS (Material
Safety Data Sheets) and records of sprayed fields need to
be readily available to employees.
emergency procedures for use in case of injury, accident,
or other emergency such as fire or severe weather. Post written
directions near the phone for getting to the farm or ranch
for individuals to give to emergency personnel in the event
of an emergency.
your operation involves numerous employees then a safety committee
should be established. The committee makeup should include
workers and various levels of management. The role of the
committee should be to identify potential health and safety
problems and bring them to the attention of the employer.
testing and personal protective equipment recommendations
rules and work procedures
your safety and health program on the safety needs of your operation
and your employees. Make your plan simple and practical-one
that catches your employees' attention. You need to follow through
with the safety plan even when things get hectic.
IF SAFETY IS NOT PRACTICED IT WON'T BE USED. SAFETY DOES
NOT COST; IT PAYS!
by Tom Karsky, University of Idaho. For more information about
farm safety, please contact: Tom Karsky, Extension Farm Safety
Specialist, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering,
University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-0904, phone 208/885-7627,
fax 208/885-7908, email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Myron Shenk, Integrated Plant Protection Center, Oregon State
University, 2040 Cordley Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331-2915, phone
541/737-6274, fax 541/737-3080, email (email@example.com).
Bill Symons, Extension Safety Specialist, Biological Systems
Engineering Department, Washington State University, 204 L.
J. Smith Hall, Pullman, WA 99164-6120, phone 509/335-2902,
fax 509/335-2722, email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This series is supported, in part, by funds provided by the
Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (PNASH),
Department of Environmental Health, Box 357234, University
of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-7234 (phone: 800/330-0827,
PNASH is funded by CDC/NIOSH Award #U07/CCU012926-02. Published
and distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of
May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the University of Idaho Cooperative
Extension System, the Oregon State University Extension Service,
Washington State University Cooperative Extension, and the
U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. The three participating
Extension services provide equal opportunity in education
and employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national
origin, gender, age, disability, or status as a Vietnam-era
veteran as required by state and federal laws.
The University of Idaho Cooperative Extension System, Oregon
State University Extension Service, and Washington State University
Cooperative Extension are Equal Opportunity Employers. Published
December 1998 Safety and Health Program Farm Safety Series
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.